A poor Internet connection is often the culprit of streaming issues
Streaming Super Bowl LV shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but it’s a good idea to take a look at your Wi-Fi setup beforehand.
“The number one impact on quality is always going to be an Internet connection at home,” Dan Rayburn, a streaming media expert and principal analyst with Frost & Sullivan. “It doesn’t matter if you have an Amazon Fire TV or an Apple TV.”
This year, Super Bowl LV will live streamed for free on CBSSports.com, and the CBS Sports app.
Rayburn said he doesn’t expect any significant problems with CBS live streaming the game. And he should know.
Behind the scenes
For the last 10 years, Rayburn has been monitoring live streams in real time on a wide variety of streaming and mobile devices in real time while the Super Bowl is underway.
During the game, he communicates with one or more “war rooms” operated by the network or third-party companies that take part in live streaming the Super Bowl. Streaming the Super Bowl is an operation that requires hundreds of people dealing with different facets of delivering the game such as transcoding, “wrapping” files and packaging them.
“I’m looking at the tech stack, and behind the scenes, I’m talking to them about what they’re seeing,” Rayburn said in an interview with The Cord Cutting Report.
And he posts some (but not all) of his findings on his Streaming Media Blog.
Last year, Rayburn tested the Super Bowl stream across more than 50 apps and platforms with an arsenal of streaming hardware, including Roku, Apple TV, iPad, Xbox and PlayStation 4.
He will be doing it again this year while adding live updates to his blog.
Start-up time, latency, and rebuffering are just a few of the metrics he examines.
“If I think of the last three years, there has been no major outages, no major degrading of services,” Rayburn said.
Last year, FoxSports.com reported that an average minute audience across FOX, NFL & Verizon digital platforms hit 3.4 million. The majority of 148.5 million viewers relied on cable TV or satellite providers.
A few million simultaneous streams of a live TV event is a relatively small number compared to multi-player games such as League of Legends, which has had upwards of 20 million simultaneous streamers, according to Rayburn.
Rayburn said when viewers have problems with their live stream, it’s often related to an issue that’s outside of the broadcast network’s control.
A friend of Rayburn’s recently complained about the poor performance of his Amazon Fire TV Stick.
After running a speed test, Rayburn said his friend was only getting 4Mbps of download speed from his WiFi setup.
“He’s paying for 200 Mpbs and only getting 4Mpbs,” Rayburn said. “The problem was the Wi-Fi. He was running a Wi-Fi router that was between 8 and 12 years old. That’s a perfect example. There are a lot of issues like that.”
Tips for Better Streaming
If you are planning to stream Super Bowl LV, there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t have problems watching the game.
I have covered some of these tips in the past while writing about the TP-Link Archer AC400, but they’re worth reviewing before the game.
1) If your Wi-Fi router or modem is more than five years old, it might be time for a new one. A tri-band Wi-Fi router can better manage the demands of a household with multiple devices connected to the Internet.
2) Download the FAST Speed Test app on your mobile device, or use a site such as speedtest.net to get an idea of your download speed. See if it matches the download speed that you’re paying for.
3) Make sure your Wi-Fi router is off the ground, and not tucked away in a closet or entertainment cabinet. Hiding your Wi-Fi router can muzzle the wireless signal, and cause poor performance.
4) Update your Wi-Fi router’s firmware. If you don’t, you could impact your performance, but the bigger issue is that you can invite an unwanted security issue. There are a number of stories online about routers getting hacked because of software flaws. Go to the manufacturers homepage for your particular model for the latest firmware updated.
5) Consider whether you can hardwire your streaming device, laptop or other device using Ethernet. An Ethernet connection always delivers faster Internet speeds than Wi-Fi. Some mesh network systems have Ethernet ports that you can use to improve speeds for streaming, gaming and surfing the web. A MoCa Adapter can transform the coaxial cable wires in your walls into a speedy, wired Internet connection.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble