Review: Ustream quality in the 2012 hurling final broadcast

Posted by on September 9, 2012 in GAA, Hurling in America

BLOCKY: A screen grab from the Minors action between Tipperary and Dublin. This screen grab was made at the lowest streaming level, 240p as broadcast into DSL.

I signed up for the UStream broadcast of the hurling finals out of Croke Park in Ireland. Since I’m in the U.S. and no U.S. broadcaster has offered a hurling match in years, watching the games it via pay-per-view was the only way possible.

After I entered my credit card information and activated the player, the game popped on the screen. The first game on the bill was the “Minors” match featuring teams from Dublin and County Tipperary. Minors play is for any player under the age of 21, and is sometimes called “U21.”

CRISP IMAGE: At the “Best” mode in a streaming, the images from the minors match were crisp. The problem was that about every 30 seconds or so, the broadcast locked up and then skipped a few seconds of play.

The game ended up freezing on my computer a lot early on as I had it in “Best” mode, but that was too much for my DSL connection to take. Eventually, I switched it down to “Low,” which is at the 240 setting. From there, I got great audio, but the images were blocky. That made it tough to follow the sliotar, which is smaller than American baseball. The game locked up completely on a regular basis in “Best” mode, which made for some frustrating viewing — especially since I missed several point scores.

Eventually, I scaled up the streaming level to 360p and then 480p. Just one level below “Best” mode, the 480p locked up a bit here and there, but ultimately served me well.

Watching the game, the skill level was impressive, and better than any play I’ve seen in the U.S. It turned out to be a great game that was only dampened by the fact that it ended in draw.

FLIP SCORE: Because hurling scoring can be confusing to a newcomer, the broadcast would occasionally flip to show the total points each team had in the game.

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