Xbox Live tries to appease fight fans after UFC ‘disaster’

Microsoft’s recent Xbox Live update took the gaming console further into the world of live television, including sports.

But the company still has some kinks to work out, and one of its learning experiences last week came at the expense of some of the last people you’d want to piss off: Ultimate Fighting Championship fans.

Microsoft promoted the new UFC app on Xbox Live by giving out some 30,000 free passes for viewing last week’s UFC 141 broadcast from Las Vegas — featuring the headline matchup of Brock Lesnar (6 foot 3, 265 pounds) vs. Alistair “The Reem” Overeem (6 foot 5, 256 pounds).

At least, the idea was to let the fans watch the fights. As noted by Kotaku, Dan Hsu reports on BitMob that the Xbox Live broadcast was a “complete disaster.” He explains …

“Due to technical issues with the 30,000 freebies Microsoft sent out in a promotion, the UFC on Xbox Live app wouldn’t load for a lot of people; would continuously crash or reset to an earlier point in that night’s event (with no way to fast forward to live broadcasting); would constantly switch between high definition, standard definition, and Vaseline-all-over-your-TV-screen definition (generally preferring the latter); would stutter and pause while trying to buffer; etc. … It was a huge mess and ensured that a lot of Xbox 360 owners won’t be using this system to watch future live events when cable pay-per-view is still a sure thing.”

In a statement to BitMob, the Redmond company said there were technical issues leading up to the fight and acknowledged that there was “a great deal of room for improvement.”

The company says it is working with UFC to make sure that the people who registered for the event will get complimentary access to a future one. For the sake of the fans, and Microsoft, hopefully the next one will go more smoothly.

For what it’s worth, I streamed the Rose Bowl game via Xbox Live’s ESPN app last night, and initially experienced the aforementioned stutter and Vaseline effect, but after logging out and back in, I was able to clearly see Oregon capitalize on Wisconsin’s poor clock management to emerge victorious.

  • Guest

    This highlights the major area for concern as we as a society move from broadcast TV to Internet TV: the more people watching, the more difficult it is to maintain quality.

    Microsoft, enviably, has more people attempting to watch its programming than are the purveyors of any other game console or set-top box — other than cable companies, but what do they know? This puts them in the desirable position to increase capacity and to innovate new solutions.

    Thank you, Microsoft, for continuing to show the way forward.

    • MS_sycophant

      “Thank you, Microsoft, for continuing to show the way forward”

      AYFKM?!?

      Other companies have been doing live streaming for many years now, at much higher volume than this event, companies like ESPN.  

      Only 30,000 freebies were given out?!  And they couldn’t stream to 30k devices?! That’s ridiculous. If it was 30 million, I might understand… it really doesn’t take a lot of gear to be able to serve up 30k streams over the Internet these days.

      This is a clear example of “Thank you Microsoft, for showing the way backwards (and destroying the viewing experience of 30,000 customers)”.

    • Guest

      We were doing this when I was in MSN over a decade ago, how the F can they still be screwing the pooch 10+ years later?  Come on!

  • Guest

    Microsoft’s legendary quality control strikes again…

  • Guest

    Please also remember it’s not just Microsoft …they also have to depend on their Partners (in this case UFC) that the Partner’s have their backend server, database, coding, etc is right for whatever Platform they decide to stream their shows to.

    • Guest

      This argument (while I respect it) doesn’t fly in this instance.  MS QA’s every game from every vendor (under load, where required) so that this DOESN’T happen with the games when they release.  So they don’t get a pass just because it’s a streaming video app.  Somewhere within the Xbox org the app was QA’d and approved for this live event with this marketing commitment, and it took a huge dump in the middle of it.

      The reason (well, one of the reasons) they enforce this QA regime this for games is b/c nobody really cares (or in most cases knows) that the retail software comes from somebody other than MS.  So when there is a massive failure, xbox consumers don’t yell at EA or Activision (or UFC) – they yell at MS.  So MS has to own the problem, even’t if it’s not one of their own making.  That’s part of being a first party.  

      Somewhere within MS, somebody dropped the ball, and there will be hell to pay, simple as that.  

      Not good.  Not good at all.

      • Guest

        Accountability? At MS? Surely you jest?

        • Guest

          Unlike other parts of MS, xbox has had no trouble lately showing screw ups the door.  Unfortunately, sometimes good folks get caught in the downdraft, but compared to other groups, there is some measure of accountability.

    • Guest

      This argument (while I respect it) doesn’t fly in this instance.  MS QA’s every game from every vendor (under load, where required) so that this DOESN’T happen with the games when they release.  So they don’t get a pass just because it’s a streaming video app.  Somewhere within the Xbox org the app was QA’d and approved for this live event with this marketing commitment, and it took a huge dump in the middle of it.

      The reason (well, one of the reasons) they enforce this QA regime this for games is b/c nobody really cares (or in most cases knows) that the retail software comes from somebody other than MS.  So when there is a massive failure, xbox consumers don’t yell at EA or Activision (or UFC) – they yell at MS.  So MS has to own the problem, even’t if it’s not one of their own making.  That’s part of being a first party.  

      Somewhere within MS, somebody dropped the ball, and there will be hell to pay, simple as that.  

      Not good.  Not good at all.