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Broadband Demand for Game of Thrones Knocks Sky NOW TV Service Out

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 (12:14 pm) - Score 2,279

Customers who pay £4.99 a month for the Entertainment Pass on Sky’s broadband-based NOW TV service now have more than those annoying “Rights Restrictions” messages (here) to worry about after the live broadcast of popular TV show Game of Thrones (Season 4 : Episode 1) caused a surge in demand that disrupted connectivity.

Posts on the NOW TV Forum, which have been picked up on by Recombu, suggest that Monday’s live 9pm broadcast of the TV show caused connectivity and slow loading problems as a result of allegedly “unforeseen high demand“.

A NOW TV Community Manager said:

We’re aware of a number of reports of NOW TV not working this [Monday evening]. You might experience slow loading times or error messages which stop you from watching content. We’re investigating this as a matter of priority … We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and will update you as soon as possible.”

The service soon returned to normal after the live broadcast had ended and thankfully those who missed the episode can at least catch-up on the content. Hopefully next time NOW TV will be better prepared for surges of demand caused by hugely popular TV shows, which is something that should have been easy for them to foresee.

The problems experienced by NOW TV represent at least one area where Internet based TV services can sometimes run into difficulties, which is something that traditional passive terrestrial services don’t have to worry about in quite the same way. [Insert reference to the Net Neutrality debate :)].

Leave a Comment
16 Responses
  1. Avatar BT Investor says:

    “Hopefully next time NOW TV will be better prepared for surges of demand caused by hugely popular TV shows, which is something that should have been easy for them to foresee.”

    Huge surges in demand is not something that is easy to foresee when it is dramatically above the norms of the service. Of course you can blindly throw tons of money at excess capacity but that’s not how run you a profitable business. Sky will learn from what happened last night and factor those usage patterns into revising their infrastructure and tweaking how their platform adapts – to try and prevent it happening again.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      ..and yet everybody else seems to manage it quite well for big sporting and TV events.

    2. Avatar George says:

      No Mark other do have issues. If you look at BT forums you will see they have had issues with BT Sport and popular football matches stuttering, i will give BT credit though since the launch of BT Sport things have got better most of the time. Talktalk (or was it Tiscali at the time) have had issues with the Tiscali TV service in the past and the demand. Virgin are not immune either with their streaming services previously having issues.

      It is not just ISPs either. Apple as and example have several times had problems with their speeches at WWDC which are broadcast on their website. A year or two back the demand from people trying to watch it live on their site crashed their entire website.

      The trouble with IPTV at the moment is it has reached a stage where it can be delivered to anyone with a decent modern connection in lovely quality. Whether or not they are prepared for the data demands it creates is another matter.

  2. Worked with no issues on NOW TV here, but did watch on catch-up at 10:30pm as was still busy working at 9pm

  3. Avatar Michael Rand says:

    You would think they would have forseen this given the popularity of Game of Thrones.

  4. Avatar Phil says:

    Make me laugh “Sky – believe in better” but they are actually “Sky – believe in worse”.

    Now TV is conned rip off £9.99 per day for sports That’s work out £279.72 per month. No wonder I left sky year ago. Expensive subscription. Hate sky.

    1. Avatar George says:

      If you are stupid enough to pay £9.99 a day to any organisation when you can instead pay around only double that for the entire month subscription that i would say is more your problem rather than theirs. They like any company would just laugh at your stupidity.

    2. Avatar Phil says:

      George, did I say I been using this £9.99 a month? Of course I ain’t stupid as I never use NOWTV but I can see the price of £9.99 per 24 hours pass, no thanks Sky!

    3. Avatar Phil says:

      George, I left sky last year from Sky+ HD subscription £63 a month for full package.

    4. Avatar George says:

      I thought you were a Virgin and then/now a Plusnet customer? You go through ISPs quicker than a MP goes through expenses 😉

  5. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    What kind of delivery does Now TV use?

    Point to Point or Point to Multipoint?

    If it a stream started at certain times then I would guess it would be the latter.

    Issue’s like these are exactly the reason that the Bittorrent protocol cannot be beaten as an efficient delivery mechanism.

    I myself watched GOT last night, delivered to me via Bittorrent…

    Has anyone tried popcorn time yet?

    1. Avatar George says:

      Now TV content is delivered in a similar method to Roku content. Most of it is transcoded to Flash or HTML5 delivered over http in small packets. Some live content (though i doubt it for Game of thrones) is delivered via UDP in unmolested quality (normally mpeg2 or mp4 and webchannels only such as twit live). If you go exploring about the roku development kits/apps it will probably reveal more somewhere.

      As to popcorn time… Is that still going? You know you can basically do the same thing now with most torrent apps? Utorrent has the ability to watch as you download now, so does Free Download manager which can now also handle torrent files.

      You may want to have a google around about stuff relating to ‘stream torrent’ and ‘Ace stream’, and ‘ace stream links’ if you are a dirty pirate. Find the right channels for those apps and you wont have to wait for a torrent file on a torrent site of Game of thrones 😉

  6. Avatar BT Investor says:

    “..and yet everybody else seems to manage it quite well for big sporting and TV events.”

    Who is everybody else?

    I know BT has had its share of issues with demand during big Premier League matches.

    Who has a perfect track record of never underestimating demand?

    1. Avatar George says:

      Indeed nice to agree with you BT investor. BT Sport has got much better since its arrival, in the early days online every other big match would have issues, (stuttering, disconnecting etc) BT have improved considerably though.

      NO ISP is immune, all the big players have had problems in some form previously.

      Apple have had issues with broadcasting their live events before and even Netflix now i think about it have also had issues.

      They are perhaps the kings of streaming video but even they when they first launched their own homegrown content like Lilyhammer, House of Cards etc there was issues as every American and his dog tuned in to watch it finding that the stream would not ramp up to decent quality due to the demand and their servers unable to meet it. They soon learned though.

    2. Avatar GNewton says:

      Has the thought ever occured upon you how much better it would be if BT, instead of wasting a £Billion on the BT Sports, Sainsbury voucher schemes, and other such adventures, would actually invest in fibre brooadband and adequate fibre backhauls and actually become a telecoms company again?

    3. Avatar dragoneast says:

      Yes, if you ignore the practicalities of paying for it. Unfortunately, customers will pay for content which they can see; not for the infrastructure, which they can’t.

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