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Game on

For sports fans, high-speed Internet coupled with reliable TV service is a winning combo

By Stewart Schley
Media & Technology Writer

The three-point shot attempt that could win Game 7 traces its rainbow arc high above the wooden surface before rattling the rim, bouncing twice and then finally, as the crowd hushes with anticipation…

Oops. Timeout for the adaptive bit rate to catch up with itself. Shouldn’t be more than a minute or so, sports fan. Enjoy this rotating progress indicator in the meantime.

That tale of sports woe actually does happen occasionally in the brave new world of online video. As appealing as new digital video platforms can be, they’re sometimes prone to technical glitches that seem to have a habit of occurring at just the wrong time. The Internet, after all, is a complicated domain where billions of data particles fight to reach their destination every micro-second. Video engineers have worked tirelessly to assure that high-resolution video signals can traverse the minefields, but still, stuff happens.

So what’s a sports fan to do? 

Two thoughts:
  • Play fast. If you’d decided to turn your television over to an Internet-delivered video service, do yourself a favor of stepping up to high-performance Internet connectivity that does a superior job of zipping your signals to your screen. The gold standard these days is “the gig,” shorthand for an Internet connection that can shoot digital data at rates approaching one gigabit per second. Gigabit Internet is terrific, but if you can’t quite get there, a connection measured in the hundreds of megabits per second (say, 200 Mbps) will probably suffice for most.
  • Stick with the game plan. Not to sound old school, but consider a familiar alternative for getting the big game onto your screen: traditional television service, with all the sports channels you love. That black cable that connects to the back of your TV or home Wi-Fi router has a special trick up its sleeve: reliability. You turn it on and it works, meaning you don’t miss a second of the action.
Lots of people, in fact, have chosen to pair high-speed Internet with a traditional television service. They’re commonly sold as a discounted pair, or “bundle” in industry lingo, which makes the choice all the more appealing.

If you’re big into sports, the last thing you want is to lose your connection to the game when it matters most. So your best bet may be a reliable television service to the big screen, coupled with a high-speed Internet connection that can stream music, video and digital data all around the house. It’s the telecommunications industry’s version of a sports classic: the double-play.
A sports fan’s TV checklist

Before you cut the TV cord, take an inventory of what you might be cutting out…
  • Are my channels still there? Jot down or keep in mind your go-to channels for live sports. Then, make sure you can still find them if you sever ties with your current TV service.
  • Is it really live? Often, games delivered over the Internet arrive to your screen slightly delayed, owing to complications of signal routing. It’s a minor annoyance at worst…unless your friend keeps texting you about amazing plays before you’ve actually seen them.
  • Is my team blacked out? Make sure your sports-video app will include your hometown teams. Some sports-league apps have contractual restrictions that require local teams to be blacked out in certain geographies. (That’s because the games already are assigned to other sports channels.)
Stewart Schley writes about the business of media (and, when the mood strikes him, other subjects) from Denver, Colo. Find him at

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