When Content Rights Go Wrong
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or simply under the age of 64, you might not be familiar with the name James Holzhauer. He’s currently the reigning Jeopardy champion that’s won 22-straight games, accumulating money at an unprecedented rate during his streak. As of May 3, he’s won nearly $1.7 million, averaging more than $77,000 per game by destroying his opponents and making aggressive bets on Daily Double and Final Jeopardy clues. Holzhauer holds the 10 highest single-day winnings in the show’s history and Jeopardy’s been lifted to a 14-year high during the first full week of the May sweep, which runs April 25th through May 22nd.
At times, Jeopardy has even pulled in better same-day audiences than every Nielsen-rated show in primetime, including The Big Bang Theory and the initial tune-in for HBO’s Game of Thrones.
No, those numbers don’t include streaming and this brings me to my point.
But let me start with a fun fact about myself that may blow some of your TV minds. I’m a millennial (shout outs to Generation Y’ers). I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory. I’ve also never seen Star Wars, but that’s a conversation for another day.
But I do love Jeopardy, however I probably haven’t seen a single episode since the 1990’s. Frankly, life comes up and scheduled TV? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at dinner with colleagues and one of them asks the group, “Have you seen the guy on Jeopardy? He’s a professional gambler that’s won 13-straight games, absolutely obliterates his opponents, and has won over a million dollars?”
We joked about which bar we’d meet at to watch the next episode the following night. The next day, we did meet up but not to watch Jeopardy — because it’s scheduled TV and ain’t nobody got time for that.
So when I got back to Florida, I was excited about my new show to binge. I invited some friends over and we dedicated an entire Friday night (don’t judge us) to watching Jeopardy.
Because I’m in the online TV industry, I’m an extremely savvy consumer. So using my phone, I look up “Jeopardy” on Google. The search engine results page informs me that the show airs on WPBF, an ABC affiliate in the West Palm Beach area.
I then go to my Apple TV and excitedly open the ABC TV Everywhere app. I click on “All Shows” and much to my dismay, Jeopardy’s not there.
Because I’m in the online TV industry, I have a workaround! I’ve worked with enough networks to understand that content rights across different devices and form factors is a complete mess.
So I figure that ABC must only have the rights to replay the show on web or mobile – I’ve seen this before.
I fire up abc.go.com and zilch. WTF?!
Back to Google mobile search, I look up “Watch Jeopardy” knowing that Google will return me via its App Packs, exactly which apps will allow me to watch. Google tells me Netflix and Hulu.
Via the Apple TV, I visit Netflix and Hulu, and as I expected, these are some complete random and old seasons.
This is getting ridiculous.
And maybe I should have done this from the beginning — but I go to my phone for the third time and open the Xfinity Stream app, since after all, I do have an Xfinity subscription, just in another home. And this is 2019 baby!! I can watch what I want, where I want, when I want!
Voilà, JEOPARDY AT LAST!
My friends no longer think I’m an idiot. Btw, we only have access to the six most recent episodes – but who the heck cares!?
Since it would be completely weird for a group of people to crowd around a single phone, I AirPlay an episode to Apple TV.
icense Issue: 8009 (Thanks for clarifying this, Comcast!)
The video stream is not playable under the current device conditions. Please disconnect any external devices (including AirPlay) and try again.
About to lose my mind, I declare to my friends, “We’re going to watch this show dammit!”
Because I’m in the online TV industry, I knew Comcast had recently put out an Xfinity Stream Roku app. I switch the input to Roku and download Xfinity Stream for Roku.
Welcome! (Oh thank you very much, Comcast!)
This device can only access XFINITY TV on your in-home XFINITY WiFi. Use the app on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to watch on the go, any time you like.
At this point, the only thing I haven’t tried was a computer. I grab my laptop from my office, visit Xfinity’s website, and go to the Jeopardy episodes. I hit the AirPlay button and sweet jumping Jehosaphat, it actually worked!
It may have taken more time to figure out how to watch Jeopardy on-demand than it did to actually watch the shows but WE DID IT!
So why is it like this?
Sony owns Jeopardy and I refuse to think there’s not a logical explanation to why they refuse to make current episodes available digitally. But I don’t work for Sony, so I don’t have a clue.
Jeopardy is crushing at the moment and one would have to think they’d be able to generate additional advertising revenue by making recent episodes available via streaming.
What I do know is consumers expect to watch what they want, when they want, where they want and this had to have been the most friction-filled content experience I ever witnessed. Maybe I should have pirated the shows? Just kidding, Sony.
Although at another address, I have cable, yet I cannot seamlessly watch the content I pay for (400 channels when I only watch 4) outside of that home.
Maybe this is a unique edge case or maybe I’m the only person with an Internet-connected device that watches Jeopardy?
Whatever it is, there’s a flaw somewhere in the cracks and it’s created a broken experience.
Because I’m in the online TV industry, I figured it out…eventually. But just imagine the average consumer trying to pull this off.
And since this incident, since Xfinity won’t let me seamlessly watch outside of one home and into the other, I subscribed to Youtube TV, even in the midst of their price increases.
Because experiences matter. And using a laptop just to watch one single show — ain’t nobody got time for that.
Now, I’m just a millennial that’s never seen Game of Thrones or The Big Bang Theory, likes Jeopardy, and has two Pay TV packages.
Jeopardy has been in the middle of a two-week Teachers Tournament, which wraps up tomorrow. If you’d like to catch James Holzhauer try to continue his winning streak, tune in Monday.
But for the love of all things holy, please watch it LIVE!