Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NBA League Pass 2009: Full of Fart

OK, after a fairly pleasant experience in my first year using NBA League Pass Broadband last year, this year has been anything but. Generally speaking, I've been able to see the games I've wanted to see, but if the first month is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to go, then NBA's engineers better get their ass in gear before I file a complaint with my bank to get my money back.

First off, a few weeks ago, the feed to an Orlando Magic game completely went blank. It showed the first couple minutes of the game, then just hung. I contacted support, and they said they were "aware of the problem with the feed" and were working on fixing it. I was then told to "keep checking", as if anyone would want to keep clicking play and watching the same swirling graphics for a minute before deciding that nothing is going to happen. That was the first time I had a problem with a feed, so I wrote it off as a product of human misgivings.

However, after a few days passed, I noticed that I wasn't seeing the live-game DVR feature that LPBB was touting so heavily. Again, I contacted support, and was told by a male responder to install the latest version of Flash (which I already had) and Octoshape (which I've never heard of). I did both, and noticed absolutely no change; still the same non-DVR controls from last year. I recontacted support, which began an extended, hilarious and frustrating exchange with a delightfully clueless creature by the name of Debbie. This unhelpful blonde (I can only assume) said things like "if" the live game DVR is available (putting my subscription in immediate threat of cancellation) and "make sure you put the mouse over the window". I don't know where this Debbie came from, and why she took over the contact position in my support ticket, but she seems better served working at the local 7-11. This obvious line of "assume consumer stupidity first" customer service has no place in any company.

Anyways, I eventually investigated the issue myself; I had been accessing LPBB on my laptop -- a 64-bit Vista system, and, by chance, one day decided to launch it on my 32-bit Windows XP desktop computer. Almost immediately, I noticed something I'd only seen in commercials: the much ballyhooed live-game DVR controls. Well well well. So apparently, it is a system issue, some combination of 32- versus 64-bit system, or XP versus Vista. Thank you Debbie and the rest of the crack support staff at NBA LPBB for completely overlooking any potential system incompatibility issues and going straight for the "you must not have done something" line. I forwarded this new discovery to the LPBB complaint ticket; I'm still awaiting a response, hopefully from someone, anyone a bit more knowledgeable.

All of the DVR issues pale in comparison to my struggles tonight however. All the feeds are crossed and screwed up. Upon noticing that the Cavaliers were taking a beating at the hands of the world-beater Houston Rockets (lest my tongue plant any further into my cheek), I immediately jumped to watch the game, only to be confused by the sight of the Minnesota Timberwolves logo splashed all over the game court. Instead of the Cavs/Rockets game, I was presented with the final stages of the Hornets/Wolves game, which actually turned out to be rather exciting, won by a CP3 layup with 1 second left. Afterwards, I attempted to access the Lakers/Jazz game, one that I had circled on my calendar since the week began. Again, to my chagrin, I was presented with a totally different game, the last minutes of a Spurs smack-down of the Kings. We just crossed over from human err to human carelessness.

At last count, I have yet to be able to access the Lakers/Jazz video (only the radio feeds, naturally) though I can now catch the replay of the Cavs game in archive.

How great; you add more features to your product, and let the basic functionality turn to crap. And it's only the second week into December. Hopefully, if anything, it gives them a chance to work out these kinks before we get into the later stages of the season where the games and matchups really begin to take on higher meaning. There's plenty of time for them to work these things out.

That is, assuming Debbie isn't the one doing the troubleshooting.

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