How NBC and Super Bowl XLVI Screwed Me Into Making Friends

At the end of last year, we made the decision to join the growing masses of rebels and cut the cable TV cord.  Using Hulu and Netflix, we are able to watch all of the shows that interest us anyway, so why not save ~$100/mo?  For the most part, the past few months have been business as usual with us watching our shows and finding new ones to waste our time.  The only thing I was missing were sports, but even that impact was minimized:  ESPN3 got me through the College Bowl season and I stumbled through the NFL playoffs watching gamecasts (DirectTV is right, it is definitely not the same).  And when I saw that NBC was going to be airing the Super Bowl, I thought the stars were aligning in my favor.  I had watched a few games at the end of the season on their SNF site and was happy enough with the coverage.  I bought lottery tickets that very afternoon.

So, there I was, in my own home, with my own beer, my own snacks, my own bathroom, getting ready to watch this year’s Super Bowl.  The only difference this year (yes, I am anti-social and never go anywhere that involves other people) is that I planned on streaming the game through NBC Sport’s website, just as I had done several times this past season on Sunday nights.  Yes, I figured I’d sacrifice some video quality and have to put up with that annoying side banner that listed the thoughts of all of the twitiots who really think Mike Florio enjoys answering their questions, but at least I was relaxing in my own home and would continue my cable-cutting lifestyle.  I fired everything up just as Tom Brady did his best Shane Falco imitation (“When the game is on the line, I want the ball!”) and settled in for the game.  Everything was going well enough; the feed was extremely glitchy, but I could still translate the action thanks to Al and Chris’s (somebody get John Madden back asap) repetitious commentary.  I rewound the game 10 minutes to give the feed a chance to relax its buffering brains.  I shut down any ICD that I wasn’t using.  I even ran speed tests to make sure it wasn’t my connection causing me grief.  The feed was still as smooth as Max Headroom.

Then came the time for the first commercial break and the same Rainn Wilson spot and the same Act of Valor trailer played.  Again.  What the hell?!  Are you going to tell me that all those companies who shelled out an absurd $3.5-4M for a 30-second commercial didn’t demand that their advertising dollars be stretched to the streaming public?  When the game started again, I thought, “Well, we’ll just catch all of the commercials online after the game. Surely, they’re getting posted somewhere shortly after they air.”  So I patiently watched the remainder of the first half and drudged through the Halftime report with Dan, Tony, and Rodney, wherein viewers could see the assembly of Madonna’s stage in the background, building the anticipation of seeing either a really good show or a wardrobe malfunction to end all wardrobe malfunctions (This is Madonna, you know.  She’s teetering on oblivion and needs to shock up some more fans in time for her yet-to-be released album).

But it was not to be.  I was, instead, subjected to an interview with Mike Florio, taking place somewhere deep in the bowels of Lucas Oil Stadium, some janitorial closet that was so far from the field that I wasn’t even going to be able to hear the Halftime show, let alone catch a glimpse of it (having seen it in full, you should consider that a blessing in disguise -RP).  At that point, I lost most interest in the game, started brooding about what to put in this rant.  (Fuck NBC! was a popular mantra while I was taking mental notes: poor video quality; Fuck NBC!; repeating, non-Super Bowl commercials; Fuck NBC!; no Halftime show; Fuck – you get the picture…)

All in all, it turned out to be a decent game, but the experience just wasn’t the same.  But I couldn’t believe that a major network with an audience of millions, would fumble that badly.  Why would they not just include the ads and the Halftime show in the streaming broadcast?  Why would they not ensure that their site could handle the load of the many fans, the aforementioned twitiots, who log onto the site strictly for the social aspect?

I’m sure the answer comes down to money, but whose I’m not sure.  Is it that NBC wanted more advertising money to air commercials through traditional broadcasting means and through the streaming broadcast?   Did cable companies and ISP’s (I’m looking at you Cox!) threaten NBC if they tried to replicate the traditional broadcast experience for those who partake in the cord-cutting lifestyle?  Truth be told, it could be both.  But why does it have to be that way?  It’s not like the game was on ESPN, which is only available to those folks who have cable subscriptions (No, ESPN3 doesn’t count because even that lineup is limited.  I can’t even watch a full episode of SportsCenter for fuck’s sake!).  Anybody with a TV and an antenna can get access to NBC’s entire lineup.  What do they care that I don’t have a cable subscription?  (No, I don’t have an antenna.  And I’m not getting one.  They never look as cool next to your TV as they do on the box cover, mounted or otherwise, and I shouldn’t have to have one to watch the fucking SuperBowl.)  Why wouldn’t NBC extend the same curtsies to their web clientele that they extend to their antenna and cable clientele?  Beats the shit out of me, but I know they blew a big opportunity to gain viewers for their SNF games wherein they could endlessly plug their own lineup.

I guess next year, I better do one of two things: get some friends and hope they invite me over to watch the game at their place; or, engage in the timeless tradition of scampering off to the local watering hole six hours before the game to ensure I get a good seat, get hammered (so much so that I can’t follow the game), and then stumble home.  Whatever I do, you can rest assured that I will not be jeopardizing my cable-free decision for a game.  Hell, maybe I won’t even watch the game, settling for an Alias marathon instead and laugh at Marshall in all of his quirkiness all over again.  Or, maybe I’ll finally get some friends…

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