Super Bowl Report Card: Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW vs PlayStation Vue vs YouTube TV vs fuboTV

The imaginary stadium is modelled and rendered.Last night the Super Bowl was once again one of the most watched sporting events in the United States. It also serves as a benchmark for the stability of live TV streaming services.

This year we had several winners and one loser, but before we jump into how each of the live TV streaming services held up, just remember live TV streaming is still a new, maturing technology. This year was a huge step forward from last year, but it was still not perfect. With that said, every year streaming is getting better and, at this rate, soon live TV streaming will be no different from traditional pay TV.

A+ Services

Almost every live TV streaming service that offered the game stayed up. Sling TV, DIRECTV NOWYouTube TV, and fuboTV all stayed up without going down once. Their steady streaming experience earned them an A+ rating.

B+ Services

During the game, Hulu turned off a few features during the game to allow them to focus on the live stream. Yet with only about 2 minutes in the game, Hulu went down hard for some subscribers.

So why give Hulu a B+ after they went down?  Well, Hulu quickly took to Twitter to notify subscribers of the outage with tips on how to quickly restore service. This is something most live TV streaming services don’t do. The open and clear communication with their subscribers moved Hulu up to a B+.

Update Hulu sent Cord Cutters News the following statement about last nights outage. “Last night, we experienced a technical issue that impacted the Super Bowl stream for some viewers on Hulu. While the issue affected only a small percentage of Hulu’s live TV subscribers, we know this is an unacceptable experience for those viewers, and we sincerely apologize for the interruption.”

PlayStation Vue was one of two live TV streaming service with a major outage during the game. Right at the start of the game, PlayStation Vue went down hard for many users and forced users to exit the app and restart before it would go live.

Update: We upgraded PS Vue to a B+ as they did a post about the outage after it happened. In the past, Sony typically did not comment on outages so we moved them to a B+. (Would like to see them post about it as the outage happens next time.)

While there were a few reports of buffering on other services these ended up being few and far between.

Final Notes

The 2018 Super Bowl was a huge step forward for cord cutting. Even the NBC Sports App stayed up and solid for most of the game. For the first time, a major event happened and streaming for most cord cutters offered the same experience as they would have had with a cable TV subscription.

While live TV streaming is still an early technology, every month the service is becoming more stable.

So how was your Super Bowl streaming?

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