Last night, Twitter and the NFL debuted a new feature that allows users to live stream Thursday Night Football on devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Xbox One, or even just a phone or tablet. The game was between the perennially disappointing New York Jets and Buffalo Bills — not exactly a marquee matchup, of course, but one between two teams with pretty rabid fan bases, so there was no shortage of attention being paid. And for the most part, people seemed pleased with the experience.
Yes, there were complaints — it was the internet; of course there were complaints — primarily about the delay between the stream and the television broadcast, leading to something of a spoiler effect. That the delay, for me, anyway, watching on an old iPad mini, was just a few seconds actually made it more frustrating. Tweets about the outcome of a play would occasionally come through just as the ball was snapped, which was weirdly unsettling.
Also, though? I realize this is not the intended takeaway, but it was perfectly easy to just not read the Tweets. There were some good jokes here and there — a few expertly deployed gifs — but all in all, I can't say it actually added all that much to the experience. (In fact, it would have been preferable if I could have accessed my own feed while watching.)
The stream itself was the real star of the show. It was impressively clear and mostly without glitches — on the few instances if did freeze up, the fix was as quick and easy as clicking off and then right back on. Any way you slice it, this is an important development that marks the first step toward eliminating the only remaining reason to consider a traditional cable setup: live television.
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