Thousands of Canadians who tried to watch Monday night’s NBA Finals game missed key moments when Rogers Communications Inc.'s streaming service Sportsnet NOW and BCE Inc.'s Bell Fibe television service experienced technical difficulties.
Some customers of Sportsnet NOW received an authentication error message when trying to log in during the first half of Game 5 between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. Thousands of Bell Fibe customers were not immune to technical failures either, with the signal failing during the final 30 seconds of the game. The Warriors narrowly beat the Raptors 106-105.
Through their stakes in team owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., BCE and Rogers divide the broadcast rights for the Raptors. Sportsnet aired Games 1, 3 and 5 of the series, and will also broadcast Game 7 if necessary. Bell’s TSN and TSN Direct – its livestreaming service – hosted Games 2 and 4, and will provide the broadcast for Game 6.
About a half-hour into the game, Sportsnet posted a tweet informing customers that it was working to resolve the issue. Thirty minutes later, Sportsnet announced on Twitter that it had posted the livestream on its website so viewers would not require a login to watch.
For subscribers, this meant that a service they had paid for was made available for free. Sportsnet NOW offers content from Rogers’ sports channels on a variety of devices for up to $27.99 per month. A Rogers spokesperson declined to say how many subscribers it has. In a recent news release, the company said that the day the Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks to earn a spot in the Finals, Sportsnet NOW saw its biggest single-day sales ever.
“A small number of customers were unable to login to the Sportsnet Now app last night and we apologize that we didn’t deliver the experience they expected," Sportsnet spokesperson Andrew Garas said. “[We] are taking the necessary steps to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.”
On whether customers will receive refunds or compensation, Mr. Garas said that Sportsnet will “be working with them directly on an individual basis.”
While Toronto native and Sportsnet NOW subscriber Chris Kim was trying to get the game back on his TV, he missed when Warriors star player Kevin Durant was injured, a moment that went viral on social media. He had purchased a weekly pass before Game 3 for $9.99 to watch with his children and wife, who grew up in the United States and is a Warriors fan.
Mr. Kim said that he tried to reach a customer-service agent through a live chat while keeping an eye on the score online, but did not receive a response. He searched through Twitter for a solution and found Sportsnet’s tweet about the free livestream.
“I was annoyed that I had legitimately paid for this service and I missed a big chunk of the game,” Mr. Kim said. “But I did think that they handled it in the right way by making it free and they eventually fixed the login issues.”
“Several thousand customers” lost Bell Fibe service because of a “hardware malfunction” that dropped the TV channels for about 10 minutes, according to spokesperson Marc Choma.
Bell said that it is offering “goodwill credits" to affected customers.
With files from The Canadian Press
Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.