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Eye on Demand | August 18, 2017

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NBC Sports Live Extra Review

NBC Sports Live Extra Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream (via iOS)
9
User Interface
5
Content on Offer
8
Device Availability
3
Value for Money
5
6

Fantastic via iOS

NBC Sports Live Extra is a popular American online streaming service that offers a wide range of sports from the Super Bowl to the English Premier League, so let’s take a look at this service and see how well it stacks up.

NBC is one of America’s big four OTA networks, and if bringing Alf to the world wasn’t enough, they also offer a large range of sports as well. NBC Sports Live Extra includes partial coverage of the NFL, broadcasting the prime-time Sunday Night Football package, the NFL Kickoff game, the Thanksgiving Day game as well as the 2015 Super Bowl, and other sports such as the English Premier League (with greater coverage than can be seen in England) not to mention the MLS, PGA Tour and more.

For the most part, NBC Sports Live Extra offers live streams exceeding 5000kbps when used via iOS, which to our eyes looked extremely good, even on the big screen TV. Streaming live sport at such solid bitrates without buffering has proven to be an issue for many other live sporting services, but it seems NBC have done their homework, and set up a rather impressive delivery service.

As good as that is, all of this comes at a rather significant catch. NBC Live Sports Extra is only available to participating old-school American cable and pay-TV subscribers, with the odd exception of open events like the 2015 Super Bowl. This enormously restricts access to the service and kicks cord-cutters where it hurts the most. Whether NBC will wake up and follow the current path of OTT online services spreading across the US is at the moment unknown, but certainly hoped for.

Another big issue is platform support, which for the most part is almost non-existent. Outside of selected iOS and Android mobile devices,  and the obligatory browser access on laptops and PCs, there is no set-top-box, console or Smart TV support at all.

Finally, NBC Sports Live Extra is limited to the United States and their territories. Unless you live in the US, you will need a good VPN or Smart DNS service.


IPV 468×60 (set 1)

It just so happens that Super Bowl 2015 coverage will not require a pay TV subscription to view – as long as you watch on simcard-free tablets or via the web. Check here for more details.

In all honesty, unless you are diehard intent to use NBC Sport Live Extra via a laptop, I’d highly recommend skipping the web section altogether and jumping straight to iOS where the service really shines!

 


  • NBC Sport Live Extra

    It’s not just their seven syllable name that can through you off, NBC have somehow managed to create one of the greatest confusion/size website ratios yet reviewed at Eye on-Demand. It is possible that most of this is down to simple clutter, but I constantly found myself scratching my head when trying to figure out the basics – which considering this is not a very large website, it was quite a shame.

    About the only thing that’s good about the website is that the live and upcoming streams can be seen about halfway down the home page, so getting to the live streams is easy enough. Considering this is what most people would really want out of this website, I shouldn’t really be so harsh.

    So all that said, somewhere amongst all the clutter are links to live events (if any) and various catch-up streams which can be viewed at any time. Hit the Replays button to bring up the selection of older material, but for some reason the list is considerably smaller than what is available on their mobile apps. It is possible that this is not actually true, but then it would be a perfect example of how confusing this website actually is.

    Replay playback allows standard PVR control – minus recording of course, so viewers can navigate to anywhere along the event’s timeline, pause, FFW and REW, and in all fairness, it is rather well done. Video quality averaged 2200kbps, which is not really HD, but as long as the screen size was limited to laptops, it didn’t look too bad.

    Live video offered fewer options, with the exception of the most configurable closed captions I’ve seen pretty much anywhere. While iOS streamed at more than 5000kbps without buffering, my tests via the web were nowhere near as good. Like the replay streams, we could barely average 2110kbps* which effectively sits at enhanced SD.

    Unlike the iOS app, the timezone on your computer must be set to somewhere in the US in order to see a correct schedule.

    Platform Pros:

    • Average video quality.
    • Can be used with HDMI out.
    • Phenomenal closed caption settings.

    Platform Cons:

    • Cluttered, confusing UI.
    • Limited replays compared to iOS.
    • Timezone on computer must be set to somewhere in the US.
    • No Chomecast support.

     

    (To access NBC Sport Live Extra outside of the US, a good VPN or SmartDNS service, along with a partnered US pay-TV login may be required)

    Sport BUTTON CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON PVR BUTTON Live TV BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19234″]

  • As is so often the case, the iOS app is designed considerably better than the browser version. Whilst hardly a UI benchmark, the clutter that plagued the website has thankfully been reduced, and navigation is far more clear and concise. In fact, it is rather difficult to imagine both the iOS app and website were from the same broadcaster – granted, they had the same overall look and logo, but while the website was an absolute dog to navigate and use, the iOS app performs beautifully. NBC Sports Live Extra can be found in the US iTunes store.

    The Home screen consists of the expected upcoming highlights, along with direct access to live streams. Full Event Replays follows the same principle of the browser’s equivalent, but this time full of content whose filter by sport actually now has a purpose. The whole thing just works so much better.

    You can navigate By Sports or the Schedule as well, which is a quick way to set reminders. A great feature that doesn’t seem possible via their website.

    Playback of replay content lacks a few minor navigation features that the website sported, but it makes up for it in far higher quality streams. Our own tests saw an average of 4990kbps* pouring into our Ethernet port, and my own eyes struggled to see a difference between the online stream and standard HD satellite feeds.

    Live streams are no less impressive either, with a similar, if even higher bitrate of 5520kbps* measured during our tests.

    NBC Sports Live Extra have thoughtfully included native AirPlay support, with the ability to switch off the mobile device if desired, although missing full multitasking abilities and a direct toggle. Still, it is easy enough to stream the video across to the ATV, and video quality was stunning in our tests.

    All this said, there was one really odd thing about the app. At the bottom of the screen was an advertising banner that permanently advertised the very app that was hosting the ad. Clicking the ad, switched the user to the iOS app store where they could download and install the same app that they were previously using. Trippy eh.

    Platform Pros:

    • Less clutter and better designed UI.
    • Reminders.
    • Native AirPlay possible.
    • Can switch off device during AirPlay.
    • Stunning video quality.
    • Larger number of replay material available.
    • 3G/4G supported.

    Platform Cons:

    • No AirPlay multitasking.
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No CC on AirPlay.
    • No direct AirPlay button.

     

    (To access NBC Sport Live Extra outside of the US, a good VPN or SmartDNS service, along with a partnered US pay-TV login may be required)

    Sport BUTTON CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON Live TV BUTTON AirPlay BUTTONAlerts BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19234″]

  • On one hand NBC don’t give a lot away with their NBC Sport Live Extra service. Platform support is so poor, it is almost not worth mentioning, and their website is an example of confusion and clutter.

    But once the iPad app is fired up, almost all is forgiven. Via iOS, NBC Sports Live Extra really shines with some of the highest quality live streams we have yet seen. In none of our tests has buffering been a problem, or have we seen any serious pixelation or visual artifacts.

    If only NBC offered some proper OTT subscriptions for customers who live in the 21st century, then this would really be a serious contender. With ESPN now available almostOTT via Sling Television, NBC may have to start playing catchup to retain valuable subscribers.

    Once again though, that dark, empty void where platform support is supposed to sit can’t go unmentioned. Sure, there are plenty of ways to watch NBC Sports via a cable or pay TV set-up – which as described is required anyway in order to sign into this app. But for those not living in the Victorian era, this lack of set-top-box support tastes unsurprisingly of a bitter pill.

    Pros:

    • Amazing quality via iOS.
    • AirPlay Support.
    • Great sporting coverage.
    • Includes all English Premier League games, many American leagues & Super Bowl 2015.
    • Super Bowl 2015 doesn’t require pay TV sub.
    • Live & replays available.

    Cons:

    • Requires cable or pay TV Login for most live games.
    • Poor platform support.
    • Poor website in comparison to iOS app.
    • No Chromecast support.

     

    Sport BUTTON CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON PVR BUTTON Live TV BUTTON Alerts BUTTON AirPlay BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Log:

    30.01.2015: Review published. Score 6 – Fantastic via iOS.

    01.02.2015: OverPlay added Smart DNS support.

     

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

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