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Streaming Sports Doesn’t Seem to Be Working

In games where milliseconds matter, buffering and lag is unacceptable.

YouTube TV app on a smart tv
Jason Fitzpatrick / Review Geek

For the third week in a row, fans streaming sports through apps like Sling TV and YouTube TV have experienced a slew of frustrating issues. NBA playoff games last week were a bit of a hot mess, and sadly, this isn’t anything new. Streaming sports mostly works, but it’s not worth it during big games.

There’s nothing worse than streaming a huge NFL or NBA game only to have a friend text you and spoil a touchdown or clutch 3-pointer, one that you haven’t even seen yet. Unfortunately, that’s one of many problems facing streaming apps lately, as they’re often lagging behind, buffering, or freezing completely.

For example, during the NBA Eastern Conference finals, YouTube TV kept freezing or buffering with the circle loading screen during critical game moments. Fans flocked to Twitter and Reddit to voice complaints or ask for refunds.

At one point, a fan said, “Here we go again,” regarding problems with the feed. Eventually, YouTube TV responded and said it was working on a fix and certain ads were to blame. However, that’s just one of several issues fans are experiencing, including game streams ending early and users missing the end. Yikes!

And last week, Sling TV had similar issues during multiple games. It started with lag and buffering, but eventually, people couldn’t log in to even try and watch. I had a similar situation while trying to stream the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.

Unfortunately, YouTube TV and Sling aren’t the only ones, as we’ve seen similar complaints for FuboTV and others. I’m sure streaming live sports over the internet is no small task, but with prices constantly increasing, fans expect an enjoyable (or even watchable) experience.

All these streaming services tell us to cut the cord, ditch cable, and enjoy live TV streaming while saving money. The idea sounds wonderful, and often it works great, but I’m starting to think it’s just not worth it during the biggest games of the season.

a broken TV falling off the wall, showing the youtube tv logo

Luckily, I haven’t had any lag, buffering, or freezing issues on YouTube TV while watching the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs and my Vegas Golden Knights. That said, the picture quality struggles occasionally, and the audio feed is usually subpar, but at least I can watch the game.

Don’t get me wrong, old-school cable TV and satellite certainly had their share of issues at times, but that doesn’t make the situation any less irritating.

Combine lag, buffering, delays, and freezing with blackout restrictions or regional problems, and playoff games becoming exclusives where fans have to sign up for yet another subscription service, and things are getting messy. Either way, streaming services need to find a solution. All I know is YouTube TV has three months to figure things out before the NFL season kicks off now that it’s hosting the NFL Sunday Ticket.

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »