the customer ain’t king

This is a rant directed towards NBA League Pass.

A few weeks ago I complained about ridiculous blackout restrictions that prevented me from watching the Rockets here in Austin, just about 200 miles away. Since people had been complaining for ages without the NBA or anyone who could do anything giving a shit, I decided to stifle my voice and instead purchase a pricey NBA League Pass package. I bought the cheapest one available–that allows me to watch games that are not blacked out by regional restrictions for any 7 teams. It came out to something like $90 for regular season, which isn’t all that bad since that’s equivalent approximately a month and a half of cable for me (which I’ll be downgrading as soon as I can, since the only reason I bought this, more expensive, package is because it has the regional Fox Sports channels, which I found out later they blackout for NBA).

My experience with League Pass has been decent. I’ve been annoyed at the fact that they use a proprietary Flash player which means that I cannot do anything to change the ratio (they output 4:3 whereas my TV is a widescreen 16:9), the scores that take up about half the screen and the fact that they don’t show actual half-time shows. These issues I can understand because (a) they wouldn’t want to provide free advertising to the half-time show sponsors and (b) the entire system was designed by UI dimwits.

What I cannot accept, though, is the fact that sometimes games will just not show. And the reason is that whoever is behind their intricate UI setting up the streams has messed up what channel outputs what game. I had this occur sometime a few weeks back when the Rockets were playing a no-name team. That didn’t matter so much. Tonight, we’re playing the Cavs and were playing them pretty well. Of course, League Pass decided to output the Hornets-Timberwolves game. It went down to the last second–but I don’t give a crap about either of those teams. I was hopeful that the problem would be fixed after the Hornets game was finished and the pivotal fourth quarter began in the Rockets game, but now I have a blank screen staring at me that says “NBA League Pass Broadband Channel 1”. Googling a few forums, I found that the Rockets game is actually playing on the Spurs-Kings channel (who knows what channel that game is being played on?). Of course, the awesome part about this is since Austin is in the Spurs’ hometown sphere of influence, its blacked out on my League Pass. So my options for watching the game are basically down to one: watch an illegal stream from some site (justin.tv, ustream.tv, myp2p.eu pop into mind immediately).

Argh.

But wait, there’s more! The last time, in my frustration, I sent the folks at League Pass an angry email. I got a response about a week later saying sorry because of technical difficulties. Today their chat line happened to be open so I logged in to that. After waiting for about half an hour and posing my query, the representative, “Rebecca” told me that it was a technical issue that they had been notified of and that they couldn’t do anything. I guess their chat line is open for far more pressing issues such as “OMG I can’t install Flash”, which can be solved by using the great Google.

Thank god myp2p pointed me to a Chinese stream. Too bad I can’t understand the commentary…

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