LIVE Internet TV: Is it any good?

It’s been close to 18 hours since that wretched penalty shootout. If you’d been paying attention like you should have been, then you’ll recall the bit about the streaming TV link I was talking about. So for all those who do remember, here’s my first-hand experience of the whole Internet TV situation.

It’s been around long enough, but I got a taste of it only a couple of days ago. Internet TV actually lets you watch television on your computer using the Internet, for free or for a small fee. In my case it was free, as in free beer. Now you’d think why would someone want to watch TV through the Internet when you can just watch it on the… err.. TV!

According to me, this kind of service is pretty nifty if you don’t get a particular channel in your country, such as in India we don’t receive Sky, Fox etc. Being a football lover, the off-season brings a lot of boredom with it. The only notable sports channels that broadcast the beautiful game in these parts are ESPN & Star Sports but even they don’t show any pre-season friendly matches. As things stood, I was getting bored to death waiting for the new season to start, until I stumbled upon  my saviour – www.justin.tv. The site is one of several Internet TV sites on the web, offering a collection of channels catering to different tastes like sports, news, technology and a lot more. Eureka!!!

It took me just a couple of minutes to find a channel that was broadcasting the match I was looking for, so that was pretty easy. But alas, in my excitement I’d all but forgotten about my pathetic excuse of a broadband connection. It offers me a blazing speed of 256 Kbps which, sadly, didn’t seem enough to sustain a constant video stream. The streaming would be interrupted after every few minutes while the data was being buffered, with a message ‘Not Broadcasting’ written across the top of the screen. Beggars can’t be choosers though, and I had to settle with whatever was on offer.

Twiddling my thumbs while the buffer refills...

But then again, in this age of HD video output, the quality of this broadcast was downright pathetic. I tried other channels to check if it was a problem with this particular channel, but there wasn’t too much of a difference. Instead, I started getting more slowdowns due to the better quality. Switched back to the old channel. To give you an example of what it was like, at times I couldn’t make out where the ball was. The players looked like sprites made up using an 8-bit palette, in full-screen mode.

Remidns me of my 8-bit gaming console of yesteryears...

Reminds me of my 8-bit gaming console of yesteryears...

Inspite of all this, it was quite fun actually. Sometimes it’s refreshing to rewind back to the days before HD, 1080p and what-not. Getting to see a channel that will probably never get aired in India, and that too for free, is quite fulfilling in itself. Overall, I got what I wanted and I was more than satisfied.

Maybe someday I’ll be streaming a live broadcast in full HD on my 100 Mbps Internet connection… I can dream, can’t I?

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