Even though Macintosh users are now second-class citizens when it comes to watching NFL games online, NBC this season has still racked up record numbers of online streams of live action, according to NBC.
The NFL’s season opening game, carried by NBC on Thursday Sept. 5, accounted for more than 20 million minutes of online streaming, making it the biggest-ever online sports event that wasn’t a Super Bowl or Olympics, according to NBC. And this past Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks racked up another 18 million-plus online minutes, making it the new #2 such online event (surpassing the Week 1 Sunday night show, which totaled nearly 12 million online minutes, according to NBC).
“It’s safe to say we’re definitely seeing a significant increase in online viewing,” said an NBC spokesperson, who spoke with us via phone on Tuesday.
In regards to the issues we (and some of our readers) had in accessing the live game streams from Macintosh computers, NBC had this official response:
“We [NBC] have the ability to stream our linear Sunday Night Football coverage to all desktops, and to tablets through the browser. However, for the 2013 season, we do not have the ability to stream our enriched package, which includes alternate camera angles, to non-Microsoft operating systems.”
Why are Mac platforms second-class citizens this year? It’s an educated guess, but it can probably be traced to the NFL’s deal with Microsoft made earlier this year, though we have no official confirmation of that being the reason. You make the call. What does that mean for Mac users? On Sunday night online, only Windows devices will have access to the “enhanced” online features, including multiple camera angles and social media links. Mac users should still be able to view live action, but only using Safari browsers — Chrome or Firefox won’t work.
So why do some Mac users see no video at all? In my case, I suspect that my reluctance to upgrade my desktop OS or an older version of Safari (which I only use sparingly) is behind my inability to see live video. While some readers said that de-installing Safari AdBlocker allowed them to see live video, others were like me, and couldn’t get the stream to work at all. The NBC spokesperson said they aren’t seeing or hearing about any widespread problems; readers who still have problems next week Sunday, please let us know!
It’s possible that all the problems of favored or shunned client platforms could become a thing of the past in the short-term future, when new NFL TV contracts kick in next year. Part of the problems are simply that technology is moving faster than TV rights contracts — the last time the NFL signed TV deals, tablets didn’t exist at all, so there was no legal language spelling out who could and who couldn’t use them to access live action. Verizon’s NFL Mobile package suffers from similar restrictions, with viewers able to only use cellphones and not tablets via a cellular connection to view live action via the NFL Mobile app. It’s a mess right now, and viewers are paying the price in more ways than one.
What is clear is that many more viewers see online as just another method to access content they have already paid for, either via a cable contract or a cellular or a satellite deal. The onus, I think, is on the league and its content partners to take better care of its customers, who are just trying to watch their favorite sport. They shouldn’t have to both pay and experience the pain of little or no support.