By the three-quarter point of the game, I was in first-world agony. Which is unusual for me: I've never had cable -- apart from some experimentation in college -- and have fully embraced the cord-cutting revolution with four monthly over-the-top video services. (I've done the math on the cost, it still works in my favor.) With one exception, I'm not that interested in sports, so two minutes normally wouldn't bother me.
But in a world of second-screen viewing, being that far behind the rest of the world -- read: Twitter -- was pretty frustrating. So was hearing the neighbors cheer or groan through the walls, when I was still in commercials. Thinking that no one probably feels that strongly about chicken fries, I fired up my television to see just how far back I was. At that point -- as you can see in the picture -- it was just about a minute-and-a-half. By the end of the game, it was a full two minutes.
And that was nothing compared to what others had experienced this week. For some consumers, the streaming live and on-demand video service Sling TV had a full-on meltdown during the semi-final games on TBS, displaying frustrating buffering messages or choppy video to its consumers. The service even apologized to users -- many of whom may have signed up partly because of Sling TV's heavy advertising that the new-ish platform would be carrying those particular games.
We're sorry some basketball fans saw errors tonight due to extreme sign-ups and streaming. Engineers rebalanced load across network partners— Sling Answers (@slinganswers) April 5, 2015
All of which is to say that, when it comes to cord-cutting, we're still in early days. And the pain of the early adopter is particularly bad when it comes to streaming services. Because while you may be okay with being able to only binge watch certain sitcoms or dramas, if you're paying for live TV, then you almost certainly want to actually watch live TV, as it happens, without having to question whether you've made bad decisions.
This does not mean that I am a streaming naysayer. The fact that we're to the point where we can even attempt to do things like live stream an NCAA championship game is impressive, and it's pretty clear that this is the direction where things are going. That's demonstrated by announcements such as HBO's launch of its standalone $15 per month service, or even excitement over new streaming hardware from Roku and Apple. Also, Nielsen's data shows that watching television through streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon has gone mainstream — reaching 40 percent of U.S. homes.
I'm not even saying that cord-cutting can't work for people in its current form. I am saying, however, that the exercise does require a bit of work right now, and no small amount of patience. I pay for four over-the-top video services every month, but during the NCAA Championship Game, my best entertainment option was still the $15 RadioShack antenna that I bought in 2011.