Thousands of Canadians watching the NBA Finals game on Thursday night missed the last championship-winning moments after BCE Inc.'s Bell Fibe television service had connection problems for the second time this week.
Some Bell customers saw a large error message on a blank screen during the final three minutes as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 to become champions for the first time. A similar incident happened during Game 5 on Monday, when several thousand customers experienced a failed signal on Fibe TV during the final 30 seconds of the game.
BCE shares the broadcast rights for the Raptors with Rogers Communications Inc. through their stakes in team owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. Bell’s TSN played host to Games 2, 4 and 6. Rogers-owned Sportsnet aired Games 1, 3 and 5, and also experienced technical issues on its Sportsnet Now streaming app when some customers missed 30 minutes during the first half of Monday’s game.
Several thousand customers watching on Thursday night on Fibe Alt TV (an app-based version of the television service) and Fibe TV using devices other than their televisions were affected by a “malfunction in the hardware supporting the app," according to Bell spokesman Nathan Gibson.
During the final moments of Thursday night’s game, Bell posted a notice on Twitter stating that it was experiencing technical issues with the Fibe TV app. The company recommended that customers “try again later” or access the game on a Fibe or Bell Satellite TV receiver or the CTV, TSN or RDS Go apps.
Christopher Robinson-Keys, a Raptors fan and Bell customer in Toronto, said those options were not available because he accesses his Fibe Alt TV service by casting the stream from his phone to his television. He and his wife tried restarting the Bell app, searching for a different online stream and refreshing the score on their phones until they saw that the game was over and the Raptors had won.
“To not be able to watch the last three minutes was extremely disappointing. I felt both happiness and extreme disappointment," he said. His memory of the final moments of the game won’t be of the Raptors winning, but instead of his TV going dark, he said. "Bell has some issues to fix.”
Mr. Robinson-Keys also experienced the service drop on Monday – which Bell attributed to technical issues – and called the company the next day. It issued him a $20 credit and reassured him that they would have the issue resolved in time for Game 6, he said.
He later received an automated e-mail notifying him that he would receive a $10 credit. It’s unclear whether that is in addition to the initial credit offer.
“The Toronto Raptors lost by one point in Game 5 and they had two days to review what they had done, fix it and come back for Game 6. They did, and they won. Bell had two days to look at what they had done wrong and fix it. They came back and instead of losing the last 28 seconds, they lost the last three minutes,” Mr. Robinson-Keys said.
Mr. Robinson-Keys said that he is not going to cancel his service with Bell immediately, but will be looking at what other service providers offer as an alternative.
Bell said that it has started responding to customers who have contacted the company or posted their concerns on social media.
“We disappointed these customers and we sincerely apologize to them," Mr. Gibson said. “We’ll make it right for them.”
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