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A Weekend Watching Facebook La Liga Live Streaming: It’s a Start For Social Media, But Still a Long Way to go

A lot of work needs to be done to make the football streaming experience more intuitive, convenient and wholesome. For a platform that is new to TV, the foibles are perhaps expected.

Vishal Mathur | News18.com@vishalmathur85

Updated:August 20, 2018, 10:31 AM IST
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A Weekend Watching Facebook La Liga Live Streaming: It’s a Start For Social Media, But Still a Long Way to go
A lot of work needs to be done to make the football streaming experience more intuitive, convenient and wholesome. For a platform that is new to TV, the foibles are perhaps expected.
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The first matchday of the Spanish La Liga football season, and viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan got to watch them in a slightly different way—not on the TV, but on the phone or the PC. Facebook, the popular social network with as many as 270 million users in India alone, now has the broadcast rights for all matches of the Spanish football league for the next three seasons. This means, the matches from this league won’t be available on your regular sports channels on televisions, or their sibling video streaming apps. Now that week one is done, we take a look at how Facebook fared as a television platform, and what still needs work.

First up, all matches of the La Liga season will be available in Facebook, and the biggest attraction is that it is free to watch. Unlike a Hotstar or a Sony Liv app that may have required you to sign up for a subscription fee, Facebook at present doesn’t charge a penny for all the live matches. All you need to do is follow the La Liga Facebook page, and you’ll get notifications for Live streaming of matches. The streaming quality, we noticed through the weekend, was quite smooth on Wi-Fi networks, and largely worked well on 4G connectivity as well—the latter is subject to variations which are not in Facebook’s control. However, we did not see any option for setting the preferred video quality (HD, SD etc.). While watching a football match, you may not want to get distracted by comments from other users or reaction icons streaming across the phone’s screen. Facebook allows you to turn off comments and reactions, so that you can focus completely on the match.

Facebook La Liga live streaming

This is a truly different experience, of watching matches exclusively on Facebook. Believe us when we say this, it’ll take some getting used to. However, despite the many positives—with free access being the biggest attraction—a lot of work still needs to be done to make the experience better.

For starters, there really is no hint that Facebook is streaming a Live football match from one of the best football leagues in the world, not just in Europe. Unless you knew about this, logging in on Facebook at any time during this weekend (whether a match was happening or not at the time) didn’t provide any hints that this was available to watch on Facebook.

Secondly, the search feature is still quite bad. Simply search for “La Liga live stream”, and you will be given a whole bunch of search results, but none for the official Facebook live stream. Perhaps that’s just us, but this confusion only makes it harder for a football fan to watch the authentic stream feed.

Third, there is no separate section within the Facebook app to highlight the football Live streaming. If Facebook is betting so much on these broadcast rights, perhaps a new section within the app is at least a basic requirement.

Facebook La Liga live stream

Finally, if a social network aspires to be your television as well, there needs to be a wider support for apps that people can watch the streams on. Let us take the example of an app called Facebook Video, which is available on larger screens such as Android TV and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Now this app would be the perfect platform to get people to experience the match streams on the larger screen. However, none of the matches over the weekend were shown on the Facebook Video app, even though its content was updated constantly. Couple that with the frustration of having no ‘cast’ option for sharing the feed from your phone to the larger screen of the TV, and the entire experience becomes restrictive.

Circling back to the issues with search, once a match is over, we were not able to search for a stream that would allow us to watch a full 90-minute repeat of a match that is now done and dusted. All we were restricted to were smaller highlights packages only, at least if we go by our search experience.

We are all for breaking the monopoly of expensive sports channels and democratizing sports broadcasts. And we are all for Facebook taking the lead as we head towards a new direction. However, the basics still have gaping holes. When we say the phone is the next TV screen, we don’t mean that literally, and all the time.

Also read: Facebook, Amazon and Twitter Are Becoming Front Runners in Live Sports Broadcasting
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