Tonight was Champion’s League night, and since the Olympique de Marseille played a decisive game, I had to watch it. However here in France, two channels are showing the games : TF1 and Canal+; but while TF1 is available to the public, Canal+ requires a subscription I don’t have. And since France has two teams (Olympique Lyonnais is the other one) playing in that championship, they alternate which team they show every other championship game day. The bad thing with that, is that tonights game of l’OM was showing on Canal+. So I decided to give a shot at the UEFA’s VOD service.
This site dedicated to video is pretty slick, and has a really nice interface. It gives access to tons of video of past games, highlights, comments and so on. It is to note that most of the feature require a subscription although selected items can be viewed for free. But the reason I was there tonight was to get Live VOD ! Access was of course really simple, and finding the links for the Besiktas-OM game was really simple, as it was for all the other venues of that night. To get further, one needs to register giving the classical name and address information. And right after that comes the checkout !
Of course, to watch live games, one needs to pay. The price for one game is 6.99€ (I’ll let you do the conversion for $) which is quite expensive for non interested persons, although I know a lot of fans that are ready to spend that amount of money to watch a game ! The first thing I did not like, is that this price is for one game. If you want to watch another game, you have to pay the same price … No discount on multiple games, or game-night-pass kind of subscription. But anyway, since I wanted to watch only that game, this was fine with me. Once you process through checkout, you get directed to the player.
The player is an interface around Windows Media Player, which is required. But more than that, Windows is required, because they rely on some DRM thingy that only works there. So bye bye dear Ubuntu users, you’ll have to make your dual-boot work for that one ! The player gives access to two feeds, one that streams at 450kbps and the other at 2Mbps. Unfortunately I had to use the first one since my DSL speed is right at the 2Mbps limit, and I could only get glimpses of video on that High Def feed. So on the low-def feed, the quality is reasonable if you are used to watching P2P TV with tools like Sopcast. But if you are used to standard or ADSL TV quality, you are way far from this. The good thing is that the streaming was really good, almost without glitches, and I could watch the game from end to end without any problems.
The last thing is the content itself. The game broadcasted was actually the one also broadcasted by Canal+. But the broadcasting time was from 20h45 to the end of the game… No pregame show, No postgame show (which by the way are great on Canal+), only intermission could be seen. And for the price paid, I find that a little harsh !
To wrap things up, I would say that the service is decent, but when you don’t have enough bandwidth, it’s not worth the price, and you’re better off with some P2P internet TV instead (of course legality issues taken asides!). So next time, I’ll either find a friend/bar who actually has Canal+ subscription, or continue to use my standard way to catch unusual sports like american football, baseball, and so on !