NBC’s Sunday Night Football Fails Continue for Mac Users; UPDATE: Problem Diagnosed

UPDATE, 9/30: After a quick call with NBC’s tech folks Monday the problem was discovered: Due to new HTML5 code NBC is using that is specific to its Sunday Night Football broadcasts, Mac users need to have MacOS version 10.7 or higher installed to see the player. Like many users who haven’t been able to see the Sunday Night online broadcasts, my machine is running Mac OS 10.6.8. There is no workaround, so to watch Sunday Night Football on a Mac you will need to upgrade your OS, which costs $19.99. Here is a link to Apple support spelling out the details, if anyone has done this recently and wants to share the steps, send me an email and I will print it in a separate blog post.

Until someone explains to us why this is happening, we’re going to keep reporting that it appears that online streaming of NBC’s Sunday Night Football isn’t working for a lot of people with Apple Macintosh computers.

Just teasing! The program never really begins.

Just teasing! The program never really begins.

An NBC spokesperson this week had promised to put us in touch with someone from their technical team, but we never got another message back, so another Sunday night we are stuck without football on our computer. What’s even more ironic tonight is that for the first time some video did appear — but it was just an ad for Google Chrome, which of course, NBC doesn’t support this football season if you are a Mac user. You need to use Safari. But for us and several folks commenting to our site, it still isn’t working. For me, the Google ad played and then the screen went back to black.

Instead of Sunday night football, this is what I see. Anyone else having these problems? Add a comment, maybe we can get NBC to realize something ain't right.

Instead of Sunday night football, this is what I see. Anyone else having these problems? Add a comment, maybe we can get NBC to realize something ain’t right.

At first I thought there might be some error on my end but I checked my configurations with the FAQs on the NBC site and my machine is up to speed. Plus, I am able to watch plenty of non-NFL coverage, including the excellent coverage of the final race of the America’s Cup. Great stuff, live on my computer. But for some reason the NFL broadcasts aren’t working.

I’m going to lay the blame here at the feet of Microsoft, since it is apparently the Microsoft-NFL deal that is responsible for the disabling of Macintosh computers. Didn’t Microsoft once lose an antitrust suit designed in part to keep it from using its economic might to squash competing technologies? Someone get me Google’s legal team on the line.

Arrgh, now we're back to the super fail screen.

Arrgh, now we’re back to the super fail screen.

Friday Grab Bag: MLB Looks at iBeacon

In the last few weeks Microsoft has been very good at starting rumors with its vague comments about potential new directions and the latest is that it might be looking at delivering a Phablet that runs the unpopular Windows RT operating system.

As reported by Slash Gear, Microsoft vice president Terry Myerson speaking at the company’s financial analyst meeting last week said that the distinction between a phone and a tablet is blurring and that has seen the growth of the Phablet space.

Google’s Balloon idea about to pop?
Much has been made about Google’s plan to launch a series of balloons to provide Wi-Fi-around the globe in an effort called Project Loon. Now Per Lindstrand has come out against the program calling it ‘a waste of time.’

If you are unfamiliar with Lindstrand he was Richard Branson’s partner as they sought to fly a balloon around the world. He said that he expects the balloons to eventually all gather at the North or South Pole.

MLB gives iBeacon a trial run
One of the features in Apple’s recently released iOS 7 operating system is something called iBeacon. It is a technology that is designed to address the shortcomings that GPS suffers from when used indoors.

Now MLB has demonstrated the potential of the technology for use at ballgames and has the potential to bring fans to within 10 feet of their destination, not within the ½ mile that is how much a GPS can be off. No word yet if it will incorporate it in its At the Ballpark app, but keep an eye out next season.

Wall Street misses on Apple iPhone sales
The day that Apple released its latest generation iPhones the naysayers were out in force. The company has lost its mojo, CEO Cook is not inventive enough, the new phones are a dud and on and on as the stock, which had soared prior to the rollout started to sink.

The market put sales of the new phones in the 6 to 7.5 million range and just a week later Apple is breaking the 10 million unit barrier and phones are on backorder. In addition the company told Wall Street to expect quarterly earnings to be at the high end of the range it had previously announced. Mojo rising I guess.

Intel invests in Google Glass rival
Recon Instruments, which has been making wearable technology for some time has announced that Intel has come on board as a significant investor, although the sum has not been revealed. Recon makes Heads-up Displays for sports.

Recon has a number of partners including Oakley and has been shipping, and selling the devices at a number of outlets worldwide, including Apple Stores. Recon said that so far it has shipped over 50,000 devices.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 ship date set from Sprint
Sprint has announced that it will be shipping the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on Oct. 4. So fans of the very popular phone can start getting in line soon. The real good news for many will be that it comes with an Unlimited Data Guarantee for life.

Amazon Refreshes Kindle Lineup-Meet the Kindle Fire HDX


Amazon has brought out its next generation Kindle Fires with new models that have greater resolution, faster processors and in one case the ability to hit a button and get help for issues that may be plaguing the tablet.

The company has also started to take the tablet battle into a new space — the enterprise — as it has added what it calls enterprise and productivity features as tablets are increasingly seen as replacements for PCs in the corporate environment.

The Kindle Fire HDX will be available in both a 7-inch and 8.9-inch model and are both powered by Qualcomm’s 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, which the company said was 3x faster than what powered its older models.

The company has also increased the pixels per inch to 2560 x 1600 on the 8.9-inch and reduced its weight 34% to 13.2 ounces while the 7-inch model has 1920 x 1200 resolution. The amount of RAM has been doubled to 2GB and they have a new graphics subsystem for faster gaming. There are a host of additional features including longer battery life and improved cameras.

An interesting feature is the “Mayday Button” that is in the Quick Settings. It calls up an Amazon expert on the device who can walk you through a feature or issue. This feature is available 24/7/365.

One area that the company has created a technology that will likely both further differentiate its products and help open new markets is its Fire OS 3.0 “Mojito” operating system that couples the Android operating system environment with Amazon-only features and cloud coverage.

Mojito may be a strong tool for the company to establish itself in the corporate environment where the “Bring your own device” (BYOD) mentality is becoming strongly entrenched. It has a number of features targeted directly at the enterprise including encryption, Kerberos support for intranet access, secure Wi-Fi, and a native VPN client, among other capabilities.

The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX starts at $379 for 8 GB of memory, while the 7-inch starts at $229 also with 8 GB. Buyers can pre-order starting Sept. 25. The 7-inch will ship Oct. 18, while the 8.9-inch will ship starting Nov. 7. There will also be new colored covers that will be available in seven shades and cost between $45 and $70.

Older models have seen their price cut as the new models come on line with entry-level 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire HD with 8GB, to $139 from a $199 version that had 16 GB model.

It will be interesting to see how these models compare with the forthcoming iPads from Apple, widely expected sometime next month. The drive for the corporate space could catch Apple unprepared, and it will be interesting to see what Apple’s message will be when it takes its turn on stage. The corporate push is also where Microsoft has been positioning its Surface Pro tablets for some time, and it just recently announced the latest generation platforms.

Friday Grab Bag: iPhone 5S Security, Office for Android?

Monster, probably best known for its high quality audio technology, has moved into the tablet space with a colorful set of offerings in both the 7-inch and 10.1-inch form factors, the Monster M7 and the Monster M10.

The M7 will be the first available and the company said that it will start at $149 at Walmart. While Apple made a good deal of noise with its iPhones now available in several colors, Monster has gone one better and will offer the M7 in eight colors: Candy Blueberry, Candy Tangerine Orange, Candy Grape Purple, Candy Apple Red, Candy Lime Green, Cotton Candy Pink, Frost White and Midnight Black.

Apple Press Event for Oct. 15
There were a number of hardware products that had been rumored to be on the plate earlier this month when Apple introduced its new iPhones and iOS 7 operating system that did not see the light of day, and now the rumor is that they will be unveiled on Oct. 15.

Among the expected products are completely redesigned versions of the iPad and iPad Mini as well as the company refreshing both its computer offerings with new Macintoshes and the latest and greatest in Apple TV, something that seems to be rumored every six months.

A side by side look at Pebble vs. Samsung Galaxy Gear
Now that there is more than one smartwatch on the market consumers will want to make comparisons on the features and capabilities of the varied offerings in order to make an informed decision so that they do not end up with unmet expectations.

Gizmag has gone to the trouble of doing that with two of the first offerings in this space: Kickstarter hero Pebble and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. The basic breakdown is Samsung=advanced, Pebble=basic. But then it all depends on what you need and how you will use it.

Good news on iPhone 5S security
One of the new features that will be included in the iPhone 5S, due today, is that it has a fingerprint sensor. First off this will make it easier to access the phone and secondly it should serve as a deterrent to thieves who will not be able to use and sell the phone.

Of course people have started to look at workarounds, including a child using their sleeping parents’ finger to open access. But one method will not work; according to the good people at Slash Gear, a severed finger will not be able to unlock the phone. Phew!

Microsoft Office to the iPad/Android?
Microsoft’s departing CEO Steve Ballmer has implied that the company has a version of Microsoft Office in the works that will operate on Apple’s iOS iPad as well as on tablets that run the Android operating system.

He did not come right out and say that it was a done deal but according to IT World Ballmer listed porting popular Microsoft products to non-Microsoft platforms was a potential growth area for the company going forward.

Despite Macintosh Issues, NBC Records Record Audiences for Sunday Night Football Online Streams

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.

Sunday Sermon: More Support and Execution Needed for Mobile Sports Apps

So far this NFL season, we’ve had two weeks and two big failures on the mobile football-viewing application front. For the opener there was the (still unexplained) meltdown of Verizon Wireless’ NFL Mobile app, a snafu that probably caused millions to miss live coverage that they had paid for on their phones.

This weekend, we’re still not sure of the extent of the problem (or whether it was something NBC knew about) but I was unable to view NBC’s Sunday Night Football game on the web, even though as a Comcast subscriber and a Mac user NBC’s own site tells me that I can. Attempts to watch in Chrome or Firefox met with error messages pointing me to Safari. And while some of our readers said that disabling an ad-blocking extension allowed them to use Safari to watch SNF online, even using Safari I wasn’t able to connect and neither were other readers. The bigger question is, why, in 2013, is a major network restricting access to different browsers and OSes? Aren’t we past all that?

Apparently not. The bigger problem, I think, is that there’s too much money and attention being spent promoting online and wireless sports-viewing apps, and not enough spent on the coding and technical support. When I finally got through to a Verizon support rep on opening day that person tried to say that errors couldn’t be fixed because “high call volume,” as if that’s a believable phrase anymore, was taking resources away from tech support. And even the NFL Mobile support’s efforts to pass off Verizon’s errors as a “server hiccup” are lame. Verizon makes something like $40 billion a quarter, and can pay $1 billion just for mobile NFL rights. But they can’t keep their phone banks staffed or their biggest sports app working on opening day? That is a priority decision that is a head slap to the users who pay $5 extra a month for NFL Mobile. But it’s apparently about the norm for mobile sports viewing apps.

NBC’s apparent decision to alienate Macintosh users is harder to figure out. At the very least, if they are going to take money from Microsoft and that is behind why NBC is “enhancing” things for Windows viewers online, be honest and tell Mac users upfront that you’re not going to get access.

If I can send any advice to teams thinking about putting in stadium apps, it would be to make sure you also have budget for technical support. I know it’s not easy to design an app or a web service that works with the dizzying amount of client devices and software install versions out in the world today. But when the biggest companies out there now are falling down on the job, it’s not a good sign for the industry overall. More support for mobile apps, please — before users stop trying them out of sheer frustration.