Streaming Live Sports 2021

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Every once in a while, I upend my family room and change how everything works. My family loves it. (not) Well, guess what, it’s time again.

I currently have a lot of services. Netflix, Hulu, Prime, HBOMax, Disney+, and YouTube TV. All of this streams through a Roku sound bar.

Platform

I love the Roku sound bar with its Bluetooth satellite speakers. The lack of extra electrical and HDMI wires is awesome. Everything is clean and minimal. Plus, the surround sound is great. Unfortunately, the Roku platform itself is kind of useless. What I want is to search for the show I want, and it would tell me where to watch it. I have to play hide and seek every time.

Apple TV is an option, but it costs $200 and I am not sure how compatible the sound bar would be. I haven’t used it before and I am skeptical that the experience would be all that I want.

Android TV is an option on the television, but it has proven itself to be problematic and limited. So I guess I’m stuck with Roku. It’s not terrible, it’s just not great.

Live Sports

Right now, I’m watching the Australian Open. My experience has been frustrating and difficult. Just to be clear, I have a 1gbit fiber connection and a nice big 4K TV. So the equipment shouldn’t be an issue. My choices for live sports is either YouTube TV or Hulu Live sports or ESPN+. I’ve been using YouTube TV for a year or two and it has been ok. Unfortunately, for the Australian Open, I was struggling to find the matches I wanted. Plus, it kept spoiling the scores for me.

My requirements for a great live sports experience are:

  • minimum 1080p, 4K is ideal
  • 60fps so it doesn’t look weird
  • Don’t stop the video with buffering all the time
  • Fast forward 30 seconds with a single click, (to skip commercials!)
  • Make it easy to find the match I want to watch.
  • Don’t spoil the scores

Part of the reason I decided to try something new is that Hulu is bundling Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ all together. Since ESPN has the tennis, I decided to give it a try.

For my requirements, there seems to be a few problems. First, my Roku sound bar and Hulu aren’t great together. Live sports is limited to 720p, which is just not as crisp as HD. If I had a different platform, it would be 1080p. Very frustrating. Obviously, it’s not 4K either. Secondly, I can’t skip commercials. This is just a deal breaker for me. However, because of the ESPN+ bundle, I installed the separate ESPN app on Roku and tried that instead.

The ESPN+ app at least lets me skip the commercials. I’m not positive, but I think this is 720p and not 1080p. The bigger problem is that the ESPN app is horribly designed. Actually, most of these apps are poorly designed, but the ESPN one is awful. It took my several minutes to find what I was looking for. Lastly, the ESPN app buffers fairly frequently. This disrupts the experience too much.

So should I downgrade Hulu and keep YouTube TV or not? YouTube TV has upping the price and is charging even more for 4K. Hulu has more content and the bundle is nice. I’m going to run both for a month to compare more I think.

Why are there so many options for this crap? It can be too much. Everyone is bundling and giving away free subscriptions for a year. I can’t keep track. Anyway, maybe someone else is going through this and feels less alone.

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