Your rundown of the DirecTV Live 4K Major League Baseball broadcast failures
Stephan Jukic – April 21, 2016
We’d earlier posted a story about an upcoming effort by DirecTV to broadcast a live Major League Baseball game in 4K UHD and follow this up with consistent live broadcasts. This was of course exciting news for live 4K sportscasting and for 4K TV owners who also happen to be baseball fans.
Now however, it seems that this one more source of serious ultra HD entertainment in a market still dealing with a scarcity of such video sources remains on hold due to technical issues.
DirecTV was supposed to start their live 4K coverage with a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants last Friday but at the key moment, not even a moment of the game reached the air or any DirecTV subscribers thanks to technical issues in the process.
This alone wasn’t exactly a public relations win for DirecTV or its parent company AT&T but what made things even worse was seeing their second attempt at MLB 4K broadcasting fail as well, during Tuesday night’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals. This second match had also been promised by DirecTV in their press release from last week, but, once again, “technical issues”.
All of this might seem almost laughably incredible considering the expertise and financial power at work in the company behind this latest live 4K sports casting effort but the dual technical failure after a major press release also serves to underscore just how tricky live 4K sports broadcasting can still be, even for the giants of the media world.
Now, the big question is, what exactly is the deal here? What’s making DirecTV fail not just once but twice on something they seemed so sure of delivering effectively to audiences?
DirecTV itself is of course being rather quiet about what went wrong with their broadcasts and their public statements to that effect have revealed little in the way of actual explanatory details:
In their response to questions from the website TVpredictions.com, the company had only this to say:
“While the (Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants) game was available to our customers in HD on MLB Network, we needed to cancel the 4K broadcast due to a technical issue with a third party’s field production truck. The signal was not up to our high standards and we are continuing our testing to ensure we deliver a flawless 4K viewing experience. If viewers were inconvenienced, we certainly apologize.”
And in reference to their second failed broadcast between the Cardinals and Cubs, the media giant released this statement:
“To ensure the delivery of the best possible 4K Ultra HD signal for future live broadcasts, DirecTV and MLB Network will conduct an internal test of the signal during tonight’s Cubs vs Cardinals game. The game will be available to customers in HD, but not in 4K. Moving forward, we are committed to delivering the best experience for our customers.”
Needless to say, 4K Ultra HD TV owner fans themselves have been less than pleased with both DirecTVs responses and the fact that their expectations of watching live Major League Baseball games were completely and unexpectedly thwarted. As the website TVpredictions.com also covered, a number of subscribers to the company’s satcasting service had upgraded their programming plans and in some cases even their hardware for the 4K option just so they could access the MLB games in time. Needless to say, and as TVprediction’s quotes from Twitter accounts show, subscribers were far from pleased:
“And the first MLB game in 4K on DIRECTV…a big fat DIRECTV logo on channel 106. Good job. #Fail,” tweeted Brian Little on Twitter at 10:09 p.m. ET, four minutes after game time.
“Killed my anticipation. No 4K feed for baseball game. I have a confirmed install and it was working but game is a no-show,” tweeted Richard Alaniz on Twitter. “Bad job DIRECTV.”
“Where did the 4K baseball game go? After seeing a logo for 20 min. the guide now says to be announced,” tweeted Paul Murray,”
Even beyond the Twittersphere, subscribers to DirecTV’s 4K services made sure to voice their complaints and displeasure on sites like DBSTalk.com, an online forum for viewers of DirecTV and Dish services. As we can see with some excerpts below:
“So I wonder what happened to the 4K Giants game last night? I went to bed about 10 but at that time the game hadn’t aired yet and they changed the guide (listing for ch. 106) to ‘to be announced,’ ” according to user JC Langston.
“Same thing happened here. Technical problems? Maybe someone can fill us in,” from user ‘ep1974.’
Other satellite subscriber message board sites like SatelliteGuys.us also saw their fair share of expectant DirecTV customer annoyance
“Kind of upset,” claimed ‘pkleinlsu’ of Wilmington, North Carolina. “I had to get upgraded package and equipment…”
“Weird thing is earlier they had footage from the stadium in 4K from various cameras playing on (channel 9800, a DIRECTV test channel) at around 7 p.m. ET. It looked spectacular,” according to Daniel Mendez of Bonaire, Georgia.
Thus, what we know so far is that DirecTV’s efforts both failed rather spectacularly and that those who actually tuned into channel 106, where the broadcasts were supposed to be seen, at the correct time only got an eyeful of the DirecTV logo, then nothing at all after 20 minutes. Not exactly the same excitement as seeing a stadium full of pro baseball action in exquisite 4K ultra High Definition.
At the time of the failures, DirecTV put out no customer support information and what footage from the games did eventually appear wasn’t live and was only visible on a limited test channel to which the general public has no access anyhow.
In very basic terms, DirecTV completely dropped the ball here and they haven’t even responded in the best way they could to their paying customers. Now, we can look forward to seeing if they release more details, better apologies and, most importantly, if they finally get things right in time for the next scheduled MLB broadcast on the 29th of April, in less than 10 days’ time.
DirecTV claims that things will indeed be fine this third time around, as their most recent press statement indicates (but with no further apology for the disasters of last week and Tuesday):
“DirecTV and MLB Network successfully tested an internal, live 4K broadcast of [Tuesday’s] Cubs vs Cardinals game and are now on track to deliver a live 4K broadcast to customers with the Yankees @ Red Sox game on April 29. Taking the lead in pioneering new technology will always have its challenges, but we believe the rewards are well worth it to bring this unique visual experience to our customers.”
Story by 4k.com