It Was a Bad Week for Live TV Streaming: We Explain What Happened

Authentic scrambled reception on a TV screenIf you tried to watch several live TV streaming services, especially during major sporting events, over the last week you may have found some glitches along the way.

Over the weekend Cord Cutters News heard from many of our readers that live TV streaming was down on services like WatchESPN, DIRECTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue to name a few. So far none of the major streaming companies have come out with a statement on what is happening, so we started to dig around.

So what happened with all the recent outages?

As best we can tell what has happened is a rush of new subscribers and unexpected demand in viewership has left streaming services struggling to keep up. This is not just from cord cutters but also cable subscribers wanting streaming access to their shows as seen with WatchESPN.

Now streaming services are rushing to expand compacity to handle the demand. Why is it so slow in the day and age of on-demand hosting? Security is a big part of it. The contracts streaming companies have with the content providers don’t allow them to just put the content on any old server. These servers must be secure with a secure connection to prevent pirate streams coming from them.

As best we can tell most major live TV streaming services have seen their growth skyrocket far faster than expected.

The good news is that streaming is taking off and growing quickly. The downside is we are overfinancing some growing pains as companies adjust to the growth.

Why do live TV services struggle with outages and buffering more than on demand?

You may have noticed that live TV services see far more outages than on-demand services. There are many reasons that on-demand services are more stable.

First, on-demand services can install multiple servers around the country and world. This network of servers means even if one set goes down only a small number of people will see an outage until it can switch over to a backup server farther from your home.

With live TV the fact that it is live means it all must come from a limited location. This is done to cut back on the delay and for the need to have the servers be connected to the content companies 24/7. This makes live TV. Unlike with on-demand servers that have a stored copy of the show or movie live streaming means the server must also be pulling a copy of the feed from the content companies 24/7.

Second, with live TV everyone is watching the same thing at the same time. Typically the number of people watching a show or movie at the same moment from the same server is far lower than the number of people trying to watch a major sporting event at the same exact second. That puts a far higher demand on the server versus on demand.

We could keep going but these are the two main reasons live TV is more difficult than on demand. With that said live TV services are far more stable than they were a few years ago. Look for them to continue to improve in quality in the months and years to come.

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