Emma Gase | Medium Talk Co-Creator
It’s Sunday afternoon. You and your friends are sitting in formation on the couch. There are ten minutes until kickoff/ tip off/ the first pitch. Popcorn has been made, chips and salsa purchased and displayed on the coffee table.
“I have Chromecast,” you told your friends, all of whom--like yourself--do not pay for cable. “Let’s watch at my place.” You’ve already congratulated yourself on the clever Millennial loopholes you’ve poked in the cable business. I don’t need Time Warner/Cox/ Comcast/ DIRECTV, you said. I have logins for everything I could ever need. HBOGo, Showtime Anytime, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, NBA League Pass, NFL Sunday Ticket, MLB Extra Innings. What more is there? I can just stream anything wherever, whenever!
It’s time. You whip out your phone, pull up the corresponding app, ready to Chromecast. You enter your login, which you know to be valid. A small circle appears on your screen and begins to rotate. It’s loading. And then it happens.
ERROR: Pass Interference! Another user is logged into this account.
You call your brother. Are you watching Sunday Ticket? You ask him. He is. Of course he is. Well, is there a possibility you can find a way to watch the game locally? He doesn’t have a TV, so the computer is the only way. Well what about a bar, you ask. Why don’t you go to a bar, he says. Because I have people over at my place! You are dangerously close to involving your parents to settle the dispute, though you and your brother are technically adults. Adults who feed off the spoils of the mothership’s cable package, but adults nonetheless.
Defeated, you try again later that afternoon. Your brother’s restaurant shift has started, leaving the login free. Another iteration of the error message lights up your TV screen.
ERROR: Pass Interference! DIRECTV is experiencing an error and is unable to cast your game at this time. Please try again later.
But it is later! With some tinkering, the game is streaming, finally, but only on your cell phone. Your dreams of Sunday couch-lock watching Redzone with your friends are shattered, and have been replaced with the Kafkaesque nightmare of logins and toggling between apps and browsers and screens. Such is the life of a Chromecasting sports watcher.
Chromecast and its apps don’t discriminate in their dysfunction. Maybe the Internet is shoddy, so you’re watching blurred, herky-jerky figures that give you a migraine. Or perhaps the picture is great, everything is hooked up and streaming, but there is no sound. Or maybe your login is only good for one outside device, and the other person got there first (see aforementioned sibling conflict).
If you miss an episode of Homeland, you can watch tomorrow. But games don’t have a shelf life. And TBS/ TNT, Fox Sports, ESPN, etc., don’t have incentives to give subscribers reliable mobile watching experiences. But they also know there are sports maniacs out there (hi, Dad) who will shell out for the most extravagant bundle DIRECTV offers. Why should these companies let others (me) enjoy the same access on Chromecast free of cost?
Case in point: On Saturday, my Very Important Chromecasted Football Game cut out for the fourth time in ten minutes. I pounded on my coffee table in lame futility. I wanted answers, solutions. Was it BTN2Go’s fault? Chromecast’s? Or was it my own, for soldiering forward with a plan to watch an Important Game via a system I knew would inevitably crap out on me?
As I massaged my stinging hand, I was forced to ask myself: Is the money I would spend on cable equivalent to the units of exasperation, fury, and desperation that I expend each time the Chromecast cut out, failed, or kicked me off my login?
I’m still answering that question. In the meantime, I’ve included a small guide to those afflicted with Chromecast Dysfunction. There are no real solutions other than cable, but if one is intent on mooching off the cable subscriptions of others, then workarounds must be put in place.
1) Pay for Cable: For $50 a month you can watch your games and shows in peace. Downsides: $$$, cable company customer service, and the inevitable 40 minutes of Cialis commercials.
2) Go to a Bar: You may have been drunk for 48 hours by the time Sunday night rolls around, but the bar offers no-fail viewing access. Get a lite beer and deal with it.
3) Go to a Friend’s Place: If you have a friend who has cable, that is. Bring food, be grateful, and shoot for someone less than three train stops from your place.
4) Game-cast: There’s always mobile LTE.