Dan Sahar

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The Real Cord Cutters of Cleveland

After two of the longest droughts in sports, this year’s NBA finals showcase two teams that endured tough roads to get here. We at Qwilt did our very best to score tickets to the Oracle Arena, but unlike the conference finals round when we had a true bird’s eye view inside the arena, even Gametime App didn’t come to our rescue, forcing us to watch the game on the big screen.

Bay Area basketball fans have not seen their Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals since 1975

For all you cord-cutters out there, another showdown was taking place – and we’re not talking about who will score more Lebron or Steph – but rather the battle for streaming supremacy between SlingTV and WatchESPN, the only two legit options to stream the game live.

Unveiled on January 5, 2015 by parent company DISH at the Consumer Electronics Show, SlingTV aims to complement subscription video on demand services for cord cutters, offering a selection of major cable channels that can be streamed through smart TVs, digital media players and apps. This was the battle of “cord cutters and nevers” for which Sling is pretty much the only way to get their sports rush online against the TV everywhere crowd and long-time fan favorite WatchESPN, available only to existing cable subscribers and thus not a true cord-cutter solution.

Qwilt’s open caching solution deployed in one of the local fixed line Cleveland market operators, allowed us to get court side seats of this battle.

In the conference finals round, Sling showed great momentum that we were certain was going to carry forward into the finals. During game 4 of the Cleveland-Atlanta series Sling crushed the competition (Watch-TNT which owned the streaming rights for that game) and peaked all the way at #3 of all video sites behind only Netflix and YouTube, leaving TNT in the dust with less than half of the bandwidth consumption.

Video Ranking – May 24 Primetime – NBA Conference Finals Game 4 – Cleveland fixed-line network

The tale of the tape for the finals was a different story, however. The city of Cleveland seemed to come to a halt. During the game, overall internet consumption dropped by over 40% compared to the previous day and Netflix consumption dropped by over 50%.

Overall bandwidth – Cleveland fixed-line network – June 3-4

Nearly everyone in Cleveland was glued to a screen in their homes, bars or at the Q watch party. All the Cleveland fans experienced the emotional rollercoaster that was Game 1 culminating with the odds-on favorite Golden State Dubs taking the game.

Even prayer could not help Cavs fans at Game 1

The live streaming battle also took a different shape than the conference rounds. In the finals, ABC owns the rights for all 7 games (if necessary) providing even the cord cutters among us a free option to watch the game via over-the-air antennas. Nonetheless, many people were still streaming the game, though at levels that was about 40% of the conference finals stage, proving that necessity is the mother of invention. When the final dust settled, Watch ESPN came out the winner, settling at #5 of all video sites and peaking at #3 at the end of the game, when people probably turned to their tablets in the bedroom to catch the after midnight post-game show.

Video Ranking – June 4 Primetime – NBA Finals Game 1 – Cleveland fixed-line network

We’ll continue to track the Finals in the Cleveland market and see whether Sling (and the hometown Cavs) are able to rebound from the stinging game 1 defeat and the potential series impacting injury to Kyrie Irving.