C-USA began conference play Saturday with a slate of anticipated matchups, most of which were only available on the featured teams’ regional networks. Fortunately for relocated fans, many of the games were available via Conference USA’s new streaming service, C-USA TV on conferenceusa.com
For only $6.95 fans can purchase a 24-hour subscription and receive a live stream of games, and they also have an on-demand feature to re-watch the contests afterward. Not a bad way to spend seven dollars, or so it may seem.
The featured contests included UTSA at Old Dominion, North Texas at Rice, Ball State at Florida Atlantic, and premier matchup Middle Tennessee at Louisiana Tech. The broadcast quality was so primitive that several parts of the game were absolutely painful to watch.
There was one single camera positioned directly at midfield, so there was literally never an occasion to view a play head on. It was always at an angle that prevented viewers from getting a good look at the battle inside of the trenches.
Then, at times, it would switch to the camera above the end zone and do something very odd: cameras would zoom in on a team’s quarterback to follow him throughout the play. You literally couldn’t see anything in front of the line of scrimmage and thus couldn’t see what was happening on the play whatsoever. The camera would then follow the ball through the play which made seeing anything develop either very awkward or downright impossible.
There were also NO replays during the UTSA-ODU game. North Texas-Rice, on the other hand, did have them. So apparently it’s luck of the draw.
The camera work was also extremely shaky. A lot of jerking, instability, and zooming in and out made for a poor watching experience.
You would think with the months available for C-USA to prepare for content streaming, they would have developed software to present a strong or at least decent display. Wrong.
The UTSA-Old Dominion game featured a score box that displayed the score and current quarter. That was it. There was no game clock, no down count, and no yardage displayed (see image above). People had no clue how much time was left or what down it was. I personally kept up with the clock via ESPN’s gamecast and had to constantly announce the time to the rest of the watch party.
As for the North Texas-Rice game, there was no scoreboard whatsoever!
It was the equivalent of a fan periscoping the game from their phone only with replay ability (I suppose that’s the trade-off, scoreboard with no replay or replay with no scoreboard). When I first tuned in I had no idea that the game was so close.
Fortunately, they were able to display the score like so:
Forget graphics and special effects, but no scoreboard? That’s beyond amateur. It’s cheap.
The quality wasn’t terrible, I’ll admit that much. HD quality was good. But, there was a particularly terrible moment in the third quarter of the UTSA-ODU game when the stream stopped cooperating entirely.
The stream completely froze following a punt, and as viewers constantly exited the stream to refresh the page and retry the video, the stream simply returned to the punt play and then froze at the exact same spot. When the stream finally began working again, there was another touchdown on the board.
And it wasn’t the fault of my internet connection, it was the actual stream itself. Several fans reported the same issue.
Unfortunately, you can never expect much from C-USA commentating. Every fan of a team within the conference knows that. But the quality was poor. There was a obvious lack of research done on the visiting teams.
A theory arose that the commentating was the local radio broadcast synchronized with the video inside of the stadium, and that there were no actual C-USA TV commentators inside of any sort of booth. If you watched any of the streams, it actually makes a lot of sense...
Final Grade: D
At least there’s some sort of outlet to watch your team’s games, but it’s a very poor service.
The low price and HD quality present some upside, but the camera work along with the primitive software make for a bad football watching experience. No scoreboard? Really?
C-USA may need to take a page from the Mountain West Conference’s book and team up with Campus Insiders. They provide an excellent streaming service, with a scoreboard, running clock, and down/yard count. And it’s free.