Advanced Television

Research: Millions have missed a goal due to broadcast lag

June 10, 2021

Nearly 15 million people have had goals spoiled because the broadcast they were watching was lagging behind the live action, according to research by Uswitch, the comparison and switching service.

Most broadcast methods result in delays to the live action, as devices have to decode huge packets of data before it reaches the viewer. The amount of delay varies greatly between different broadcast types, meaning that goals can often be seen several seconds earlier on one device than another.

Five million people have had a game ruined when a phone notification alerted them to a goal before they saw it on the screen, while almost three million fans heard a goal on the radio ahead of the broadcast they were watching.

Football fans aren’t even safe in their own living room, with almost four million people hearing about a goal when their neighbours started shouting about it. A similar amount — 4.2 million people — had a goal ruined inside the pub, when celebrations were sparked by footage from another screen.

More than four in ten football fans (44 per cent) will watch this summer’s football matches on a smart TV. Almost half of smart TV viewers (47 per cent) have suffered a goal being spoiled, compared to only one in ten (12 per cent) who listen on analogue radio.

Analogue radio and TV have almost no delay compared to live action, but the UK’s analogue TV signal was turned off in 2012 to make way for digital TV. The vast amount of data required to send pictures to your television means that the digital TV in your living room has to decode the signal, which takes time.

Satellite broadcasts are further delayed by the time it takes for the signal to travel up to a device in orbit, while the quality of a viewer’s broadband connection adds extra delay to the process for those who are streaming.

Catherine Hiley, streaming expert at Uswitch, said: “There’s nothing worse than having a gripping football match spoiled by hearing people celebrating a goal before you see it on the big screen. If you want to enjoy this summer’s football without any chance of having a goal spoiled, your best option is analogue radio, where the feed is almost instantaneous. If all else fails, watch the football on whatever device you have available, but make sure you turn off all other gadgets and keep the windows shut to keep out the cheers from those around you.”

Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, Research

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