Many DAZN ‘is­sues’ fixed: NFL

No TV pack­ages on of­fer af­ter stream­ing ser­vice de­but ‘did not go as planned’

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - SPORTS - JOHN KRYK JoKryk@postmedia.com

Those hop­ing an all-NFL-games pack­age might re­turn to ca­ble and satel­lite this week, af­ter DAZN’s dis­as­trous de­but, are out of luck.

DAZN, a live and on-de­mand sports stream­ing ser­vice along the lines of Net­flix, says it has re­solved “many of the is­sues” dis­mayed Cana­dian sub­scribers ex­pe­ri­enced last week­end in try­ing to watch the com­pany’s video/au­dio feeds of NFL games on web-con­nected dig­i­tal de­vices — such as Smart TVs, tablets, smart­phones and games con­soles.

Ac­cord­ing to so­cial me­dia com­plaints, some brands of the above de­vices could not con­nect to the DAZN ser­vice. For those that could, con­stant re­buffer­ing, or lack of HD video, or dropouts in au­dio, or other tech­ni­cal sna­fus ru­ined the ex­pe­ri­ence.

What’s more, many Cana­di­ans who live in ru­ral ar­eas com­plained their wifi re­cep­tion will never be strong enough to watch NFL games via stream­ing. Still oth­ers com­plained that to stream games for eight or more hours ev­ery Sun­day could cost hundreds more dol­lars per month in wifi charges.

DAZN is the ex­clu­sive Cana­dian provider of all live ac­cess to all NFL games. The Eng­land-based com­pany bought those rights this sum­mer for the next five years, mean­ing no more “Sun­day Ticket” ca­ble or satel­lite all-games pack­ages avail­able in Canada.

CTV and TSN con­tinue to show all Sun­day night, Mon­day night and Thurs­day night NFL games, but only se­lect games in both win­dows of Sun­day af­ter­noon dou­ble­head­ers.

In a state­ment pro­vided late Thurs­day af­ter­noon to Postmedia, DAZN’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for rights and strate­gic de­vel­op­ment, Alex Rice, said:

“Our de­but in Canada did not go as planned. No ex­cuses — it is not how we wanted our jour­ney to start in a coun­try of such pas­sion­ate fans. Our top pri­or­ity has been get­ting to the root cause of the is­sues and giv­ing fans the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence they ex­pect from us. We have re­viewed the en­tire cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence so far and can con­firm that many of the is­sues sub­scribers faced last week­end have been re­solved.”

The NFL had no im­me­di­ate com­ment Thurs­day.

In a state­ment given to Postmedia on Mon­day, the NFL’s VP of in­ter­na­tional me­dia and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Michael Markovich, said:

“We are aware of the is­sues that our fans may have faced this past week/week­end and apologize for the in­ad­e­quate ser­vice. We are ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to work­ing with DAZN to pro­vide our fans with the NFL ex­pe­ri­ence that they de­serve.

“We are ur­gently as­sess­ing the in­for­ma­tion and data from the week­end, as well as closely mon­i­tor­ing tonight’s MNF dou­ble-header. With a full week­end of games be­hind us, we will then de­fine the right next steps to best serve our Cana­dian fans.”

Many fans had been hop­ing since the week­end that the NFL would do what­ever nec­es­sary this week to bring back ca­ble and satel­lite op­tions. But that’s not hap­pen­ing.

DAZN’s en­try into Canada seemed to be a big win for NFL fans here, at least fi­nan­cially. DAZN’s firstyear price to pur­chasers is only $20 a month, with one month free, and with no monthly min­i­mum — whereas Cana­dian ca­ble and satel­lite providers in pre­vi­ous years had been charg­ing about $35 a month, with a min­i­mum four-month com­mit­ment.

But the DAZN ser­vice proved un­re­li­able from the get-go, start­ing with all four weeks of pre­sea­son games in Au­gust, and ex­plod­ing last Thurs­day, Sun­day and Mon­day with Week 1 reg­u­lar-sea­son games, as many more pur­chasers bought the ser­vice.

In his state­ment Thurs­day to Postmedia, DAZN’s Rice pro­vided more de­tailed up­dates on some of the tech­ni­cal is­sues Cana­di­ans ex­pe­ri­enced:

“The au­dio is­sue on Thurs­day, and the late start to the Colts @ Rams game on Sun­day, were the re­sult of hu­man er­ror. We un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion for fans and we can as­sure them th­ese are not on­go­ing is­sues. We have put in place ad­di­tional checks and mea­sures to strengthen this process.

“The er­ror codes sub­scribers were see­ing have been re­solved. Again, we un­der­stand why fans were frus­trated hav­ing to trou­bleshoot this dur­ing the game.

“Some sub­scribers have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pic­ture qual­ity is­sues. We’ve com­pleted de­tailed di­ag­nos­tic anal­y­sis and found that while the ma­jor­ity of fans are con­nect­ing to DAZN in HD, some have been un­able to en­joy our full HD ex­pe­ri­ence due to con­nec­tiv­ity is­sues. We are work­ing as hard as pos­si­ble to bring this to ev­ery­one. We’ve iden­ti­fied a num­ber of tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions, which will help more of our sub­scribers to ac­cess the full HD ex­pe­ri­ence across all con­nected de­vices. Some so­lu­tions will be in place be­gin­ning this week­end. We will be mak­ing fur­ther en­hance­ments over the next few weeks, dur­ing which time those af­fected will see in­cre­men­tal im­prove­ments.

“Some sub­scribers have also been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a broad­cast time lag. While an ele­ment of lag is in­her­ent with OTT (over the top) stream­ing (usu­ally up to 30 secs), we know that our feed has been de­layed longer at times. We are work­ing to close this gap so that DAZN is where it needs to be.

“DAZN was built by sports fans for sports fans. Please be­lieve us when we say — we feel your pain. We will con­tinue to en­gage with our sub­scribers and the broader sports fan com­mu­nity in Canada to lis­ten and un­der­stand the is­sues. We’re con­tin­u­ing to ex­plore fur­ther ways to im­prove the ex­pe­ri­ence for those cur­rently af­fected and will be reach­ing out to them to en­sure they’re suit­ably com­pen­sated.

“Live stream­ing of sports is com­plex, but of­fers many ben­e­fits. We’re com­mit­ted to fix­ing the cur­rent is­sues and de­liv­er­ing on our goal of pro­vid­ing the best sports view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence pos­si­ble for Cana­dian fans.”

JAMES KEN­NEY/AP

Ten­nessee of­fen­sive guard Josh Kline, right, re­cov­ers a fum­ble against the Oak­land Raiders on Sun­day. Cana­dian fans watch­ing the game via the league’s new DAZN stream­ing ser­vice may have had is­sues with the qual­ity of the stream.

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