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An Interesting Approach to Watching Sports during COVID

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

I purchased YouTube TV about 6 months ago and overall I’m satisfied with the results. It was initially $50 monthly but they’ve since raised it to $60. It provides many channels so for our family, it currently suffices. Regarding this streaming video, the picture, especially for golf, hockey, and basketball doesn’t seem to be as clear as DirecTV. At least that’s my gut reaction, especially if I skip certain stoppages of play, the picture once I resume viewing can take several seconds before the clarity appears.

YouTube TV has unlimited recording bandwidth which makes my decision on what sports to record an easier choice. I initially recorded just the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Lakers games before I realized I could record all NHL playoff hockey games that are being played in Toronto and Edmonton. The same principle applies to basketball, you can choose all NBA games to record and you’re not penalized if you don’t get a chance to view them. Once I came to this realization, I’m currently recording all PGA events, all NFL football broadcast on ESPN, FOX, CBS, and NBC, all NHL and NBA playoff games. I’ve also recorded all Bundesliga and English Premier League games so when it’s time to relax later in the evening, I have plenty of sports to choose from.

It’s important to note that your recorded programs have an expiration date of 9 months from the actual recording. When I’m dealing with sports, that time-line will suffice. I’m imagining that there are certain big events such as a Super Bowl or final NBA game that I’d like to keep for a longer period although this is currently not an option.

I watched the final day of the U.S. Open which was broadcast last weekend on NBC. During this 5 hour recording, there were plenty of stoppages of play to give their sponsors time in the attempt to sell products and services to viewers. One side question, how many times can I stomach seeing another Geico or Progressive commercial? I have a good home and auto insurer so there’s no need to waste my time seeing these – I’d rather see Dustin Johnson conquer the course or the way Bryson DeChambeau attack Wing Foot last weekend during the Open.

Another advantage of DVR is forwarding the actual play until the golfer is ready to put or chip. Some players may take up to a minute before they put. It doesn’t take long to see which players take much more time before their shot. Once I get my cadence, I’ll fast forward to a point that is hopefully moments before the golf shot is taken.

Whether it’s golf, basketball, football, or hockey, commercials are skipped 95% of the time. I’m sure many viewers do the same thing. During COVID, it’s become apparent that during some games, there are too many free throws during the NBA. So what’s my solution? I fast forward during the majority of these free throws. I didn’t tune in to watch players exchange free throw attempts. The same idea applies to NFL football, if I don’t mind skipping the commentary, especially if I’m not interested in the commentary of teams that I’m not completely interested, I’ll fast forward at 15-second increments to efficiently see more actual action in a shorter period.

Soccer can be an interesting case study. As many observers know, there aren’t actual stoppages of play during the first and second half. Networks will advertise on the upper left corner of the screen and there are also sometimes ads occurring on the other side of the pitch which means I don’t have to skip commercials except for the pre-game and half-time show. If I could engage in a little ‘get off my lawn’ commentary, regardless of the sport, half-time shows are a waste of time where you may have 3-4 minutes of commentary and analysis and another 12 or so minutes of commercials. Some soccer games are not very compelling so I have the option to fast forward 15 or 20 minutes later in the game to see if it’s a compelling game to watch. There’s always the option of baling on the game if it lacks interest. Another option is to watch the remaining 20 minutes, especially if it’s interesting and the final result has not yet been determined. Also, there are times where I’ll view a box score of an English Premier or Bundesliga game and realize I missed a great game. I know the result but it provides an opportunity to analyze and view the game differently. Once a box score is reviewed, your not naturally watching for the outcome but rather more details and information on how the winner actually came out on top.

One viewing strategy I’ve employed recently is switching between games that have been played at least halfway through. I may start with the Tampa Bay Lighting game that started at 6:30 pm and watch it through the first and second periods. In the meantime, the NBA game between the L.A. Lakers and Denver Nuggets continues to record. After two-thirds of hockey, I may shift to the NBA and fast forward (when needed) to get a good idea of how the game may play out. I’ve also had two situations where the NFL was also playing. When you do this, it takes a strategy to effectively execute all YouTube TV recordings. One note of caution, it’s prudent to not go to during the broadcasts as it’s too easy to see the latest scores or articles that appear across the screen.

This approach is not for everybody but during COVID, it provides me with something to do. Not just for entertainment purposes but mentally too. After 9 pm, when the TV is my only friend at the time, I just like to often watch pro sport, it's the unpredictability of the match that is most compelling. I’ve watched enough sports in life to know that there’s no such thing as a slam dunk – that’s why they play the game. Getting back to my recording approach, with unlimited cloud space, and because I record a plethora of pro sports, there are live games being recorded or games previously recorded. Indeed, I have more time during COVID to watch sports but at the same time, I’ve become more selective about what I watch and how I watch it. Once the country gets back to a semblance of normalcy, my viewing habits may change, but not the way I record sports.


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