Lame Adventure 386: US Open Tennis TV Watching Strategy

In July, my thieving cable provider, Time Warner, increased the price of my service $4, raising the monthly cost to $109 including taxes and fees. This was for digital TV with no premium channels and “lite” Internet i.e., Internet so cheap and slow it could easily be mistaken for dial up’s Tai Chi practicing spawn following hip replacement surgery. That $109 tab brought me to my breaking point with these professional swindlers. I canceled my TV service, returned both the cable box and leased modem, and purchased my own modem to cease paying the Time Warner leasing fee ‑— which increased this month from $3.95 to $5.99. Next, I spent $9.04 to upgrade my Internet to Standard grade. My TV is a pre-digital era set, rendering it obsolete, so until I figure out a way to unload it, it is now an 86-pound paperweight. I signed up for Aereo, a streaming TV service where I can watch all the major broadcast networks on my computer to the tune of $8 a month. Now I spend less than $45 including taxes and fees for both Internet and TV. The $64 in savings will be applied toward my upcoming $54 rent increase October 1, so until then, I will party hard with this extra ten dollars in my pocket.  Maybe apply it toward something whimsical like a curling stone.

I seldom watch TV so I cannot say I miss it. At the moment, my most pressing TV programming concern has been accessing US Open Tennis. By upgrading my Internet, I am streaming the entire event for free via USTA.org. Sweet! Over the Labor Day weekend, I streamed CBS’s coverage via Aereo. I felt so thrilled with my cost-effective decisions, I did a happy dance, but I immediately twisted an ankle when I got images like this.

All you can watch buffering here.

All you can watch buffering.

The buffering went on so long that I completely missed the rest of that tiebreaker. So, I had a brainstorm. While watching a match on my computer via CBS, I would simultaneously stream it on my iPhone via the app for USTA!

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Desperate times calling for desperate measures.

Pure genius, if only my eyes could swivel like Marty Feldman’s.

Ironically, whenever a TV commercial played on CBS, there would not be any buffering at all.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

Happy Hump Day from Geico.

I called Time Warner to investigate if my Internet upgrade was working properly.

Me: Or is Standard service supposed to work like a geriatric hamster drawing its final breaths?

Time Warner: It looks like your Internet is a bit problematic. We’re putting a 24-hour watch on it.

I wondered:

Me: Like a dying hamster deathwatch?

I asked:

Me: What exactly does that mean?

Time Warner: Every five minutes over the course of the next 24 hours, we’re going to monitor it. You can also run a speed test yourself.

I did that, too. Pictured here is my result.

Huh?

Huh?

I have no idea what this test is supposed to be telling me, but it streamed well.

Much of Monday’s day session got rained out.  During the rain delay my streaming was perfect. Both picture and sound were clear as a bell.

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

Streaming pride or the middle finger of streams?

To take my mind off my combined Internet frustration and tennis accessing anxiety, my pal, Coco, texted me after walking past the Chobani Greek-style yogurt store in lower Manhattan.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

Add this to the bulging file of useless factoids.

When play resumed, my streaming also resumed hanging. It has occurred to me that the problem with my Internet could be that the USTA site is  globally accessible, so I am competing for my drip of stream with the entire world. I am already anticipating that when I try to stream the finals over the weekend, I will be subject to more hanging, crashing and rebooting. It seems that I just can’t win. But I suppose my pain could be worse; I could find myself subject to a lightening fast return serve from Serena Williams aimed straight at my person — as she did to Sloane Steven. Broadcaster Al Trautwig called Serena, “The Lamborghini of women’s tennis.” Speed test her, Time Warner.

Serena delivering a pain in the ego.

Serena delivering a direct hit at Sloane.

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101 responses to “Lame Adventure 386: US Open Tennis TV Watching Strategy

  1. This happens to me all the time and I wonder the same too. How come the ads stream without any issues but the actual program gasps for air? Its so unfair and very very sneaky!.

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  2. Connect your computer via a cable to your TV, unless it’s too old.

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  3. Time Warner, uggh, I feel your pain. Our cable/internet package is ridiculously overpriced as well, and then they cut Showtime in the middle of this season of Dexter. I was tempted to call and cancel too!
    Good luck with your streaming issues, and I hope they get it sorted out by the finals. We called about an issue with our boxes over the weekend, and they’ll be here to check it out on the 13th sometime between 8 am and the 15th. Terrible.

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    • Thanks for the empathy Rachelle. If I recall correctly, along with New York and LA, Dallas was another of the areas where CBS was blacked out. Time Warner completely used up their line of credit with my bud, Milton. He’s switched to Fios and has been so happy with Verizon’s service, he’s been kissing the sky all month. My building only gets Time Warner. I know all too well what it’s like when they say they’ll “be here to check it out on the 13th sometime between 8 am and the 15th.” Good illustration of how loud their service sucks. Yesterday, I had to battle them for yet another screw up with my bill and their fuzzy math.

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  4. Watching tennis while putting up with the buffering is akin to watching porn with one eye closed and BOTH hands tied behind one’s back. Mildly interesting but nearly worthless.

    The Chobani yogurt, on the other hand, sounds dee-lightful. A few points about that part of your post. First, as was told to me by my Greek friends in June (when the family was in the Peloponnese) Chobani is anathema to the Greeks as it is owned by a Turk. When I responded by telling them that baklava (sp?) was also Turkish I again received the Evil Eye. Second, D2 has turned into a bit of a Rain Man in the past 6 months. at breakfast she only eats Chobani (about 6 pre-approved flavors) mixed with Grape Nuts. Finally, I absolutely love how you’ve interspersed this post with shots from other media. Especially loved the text exchange with Coco.

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    • Such a thoughtful analogy using a well placed porn reference Mr. Family Guy.

      I was not aware of that back story about Chobani. Thank you for educating me that it’s fake Greek. No wonder I hate the taste of that brand. My Greek yogurt of choice is Fage. I hope that’s the real thing. If not, it’s my fake Greek yogurt of choice.

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      • You’ve got the real McCoy, or in this instance, the real Dukakis. The Bride is a Fage Fan, too. She buys the plain and adds the honey herself.

        Thought you’d appreciate the analogy. Guess I’ll have to turn in my membership to the Catholic League, Knights of Columbus, and Opis Dei.

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        • That would be Opus Dei. Why did they put the “U” and the “I” so damned close?

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          • I find it is often inconvenient that my finger tips are not stylus-size.

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            • My friend R. and I were just discussing this y’day. Neither one of us has big hands, and yet we keep hitting all the wrong keys. “You’re supposed to use your thumbs,” he said. That’s even harder, I told him.

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              • It was easier for me to type on my dumb phone because it had a keyboard. My iPhone’s keyboard is good and I appreciate the quick spell check, but my flabby fingers have created my share of what Mike G so accurately refers to as iPhuckups.

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                • Fortunately your wing man came up with that term, so every time I mistype I smile — yet another iPhuckup.

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                  • Yes, Mike G’s a Lame Adventures institution, or maybe he’s read and commented on so many LA’s he’s ready to be institutionalized. But you exited the wrong off-ramp and found your way here a year or two before him. You might not want to note your allegiance to this lunacy on your resume.

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                  • I think I missed my opportunity to copyright that term and create a T-shirt craze. To go along with cronuts and ramen burgers.

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                    • Note to Samantha: click the hyperlinks to know more than you ever wanted to know about cronuts and ramen burgers. Then, swig Mylanta.

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                    • O.K., V., I visited the sites. I couldn’t help but notice the large ad for Gas-X right next to the ramen burger photo. One might muse how one of these horrors might taste topped with salmon/dill flavored Greek yogurt, especially the one with the fried egg in it, and followed by a cronut for dessert. I think just looking at these images must defeat my whole aerobic benefit of walking to the supermarket this morning and carrying home a cloth, shoulder shopping bag loaded with heavy jars of olive oil, Listerine and such. Oh, ick.

                      And re your suggestion of including L.A. on my resume or not, esoteric person that I am, I do tell everybody about your blog. Whether or not they read it, I don’t know; they may pad around in here and never comment, like so many phantoms do on my blog.

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        • Thank you for plying me with Greek yogurt authenticity knowledge. This could come in very handy if I even find myself in a situation where someone pointing a gun at my head demands, “Your Greek yogurt or your life!” That won’t be the time to sneak by the Chobani, especially the flavor with salmon and dill.

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  5. Snoring Dog Studio

    Buffering. I hate buffering. Why must there be buffering? Who needs that protection when you’re just watching an innocent little tennis match? It’s not like it was porn. All these options for watching TV on a computer are mind boggling and usually involve buying more equipment and signing up for stuff. No wonder people steal stuff. Not that i do it or recommend it.

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  6. “Thieving cable provider”
    “professional swindlers”
    “drip of steam”

    I love it!

    R.

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  7. Bull shit buffering!!!! I’m streaming all of my TV here in Ecuador–so far for free. USTVnow has free streaming of all the major US networks, plus I have another site that streams free CNN. It’s called FreeTvAll.com. I’m a ridiculous news junky. I’d probably have better mental health if I streamed tennis–what do you think? LOL

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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  8. By the way–LOVE all of the rodent images in this post!

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  9. But wait .. an idea … Buffering improves slothness! Hope you get to see the semis and the finals! … but curling stones will cost more than $10, even on eBay.

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  10. I fucking hate Al Trautwig. He’s just as bad as John Tesh. And yogurt infused with dill and salmon? I’ll pass, but when they make a haggis yogurt, I may have to check it out, IF I get me mitts on enough whiskey beforehand to help wash it down.

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    • Do I dare ask what’s set you off about Al Trautwig?

      I walked past that Chobani store this evening and saw the actual dill and salmon sign. It was illustrated, but my nausea prevented me from taking a picture. Now that you’ve suggested a haggis flavor here, I’m certain it’s now in the making, Julia Child.

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  11. The good news is that I will not be competing with you for precious tennis bandwidth. I would totally give you my time if I could.

    Also, at one point you question (facetiously, I think) if ‘standard’ service is supposed to be poor. In fact it very well may be. Companies often downgrade their standard services so that their premium services seem more attractive, both to potential customers and to existing users of the service.

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    • Thank you for being so generous with the bandwidth you’ve no intention of using Smak. And thank you for explaining how Time Warner’s scam works. If I was not so peace-loving I’d beat them with a bat.

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  12. How appropriate that you post this on hump day, V. I love that camel. He is one of the few things I enjoy watching on TV. Time Warner can get away with such slothful service because Comcast, per my first-hand experience, offers no competition. I have TV-phone-Internet for $127/mo. The phone service cuts me off mid-conversation, and is otherwise staticky (they say a problem in our area — for weeks), and the Internet TV sometimes streams and sometimes doesn’t. For example, I signed up for Medici.tv so I can watch classical music performances (no tennis for me, thanks) and what I get is sound streaming beautifully accompanied by a slideshow. Imagine watching a musician playing a concerto or sonata in a series of stills. Our present quality of media communications service seems to have reverted to the AOL 3.0 dial-up days.

    Of course, too, my computer does not have an Intel processor, so cannot accommodate Flash upgrades and certain video streaming. And my TV requires a cable box and has a square screen, so the left and right sides of the picture are cut off.

    Thanks for writing this timely 🙂 piece.

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    • I felt an affinity for that camel, too, Samantha. I also resemble him a scosh around the snout, but luckily I am not showing any signs of my back developing a hump … yet.

      Your TV sounds exactly like my obsolete one. Milton got a package with Fios and has been in his bliss ever since. Maybe you can make the switch? But, until you get an HD TV (something that is on my to-to list now; it’s at # 537), your picture will continue to cut off.

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      • Well, naturally, V., our town has not bought a FiOS franchise, so we’re stuck with Comcast — or one of the dish networks; but the latter don’t carry all the channels I want. I do wish the Comcast menu were a la carte. Yes, an HDTV is on my list, somewhere around #537, just like yours.

        Meanwhile, I do have that camel story about the time we went to a wedding up on the top of a mountain in Malibu. A group of us drove up in a VW bus (so you can gauge what era that was) to be greeted at the top by a big camel who kept sticking his nose in the open windows. We were afraid he would bite us, and we were afraid to get out of the bus. Finally, he walked away, so we alighted in time to attend the wedding. Some years later we learned that the camel fell off the mountain and died.

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  13. By the way, where the eff is Audra and her unfettered bs? Go Sawx!!!

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    • Helloooo Mike G! Go SAWX indeed. Are you pumped or what? I am cringing as the BLEEPING Yankmees are only 2 games out of the wildcard. and I have to take back my Peavy dismay. I love watching him. He is so intense..and the yelling/swearing. Good baseball. You lucky dog going to the game soon.

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    • GOOOO WILL!! Grand Slammy

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  14. Good for you for getting rid of Time Warner. (I thought they had a lot of nerve to raise prices during the CBS blackout.)
    I’ve been thinking of doing the same as I really don’t watch that much tv though it seems that my streaming internet isn’t quite as bad as yours.

    Another option — you could go to the US Open in person. I did and it’s a blast. 🙂

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    • I have attended the Open a few times in years past, Jackie, and you’re right, going is a lot of fun outside of my having spilled mustard on my white shirt. Milton and I keep thinking about going. Eventually, we’ll get there and hopefully on a day when the weather is nice.

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  15. Derwood and I were just having this discussion about our comcast cable/internet. The last bill came in at $160….WHHHAAAAA???!!!! So he called them and got them to give us a “deal” again at $100 for HD on one TV, one extra modem for the 2nd tv and wireless. That’s just stoopid. But why are there cable monopolies?? Why is there only one cable provider in an area? Such BS.

    I love netflix.

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    • When I get around to ditching Aereo, I’ll look into subscribing to NetFlix. We have some Internet provider options here in NYC, Maggie, but unfortunately my building is only wired for Time Warner. That makes me growl. Derwood did the smart thing by calling and negotiating.

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  16. I would totally dump my cable if it weren’t for baseball. I am praying the cable companies go a la carte. For now I cannot sacrafice my BoSox. I love Chobani but those flavors make me want to vomit. Just give me plain vanilla or lemon with a little granola!

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    • I kept my cable for 30 years due to sports. I watch it only in spurts so it’s really not worth the expense. Now that I am without that distraction I can focus my attention in more productive ways like staring dully at my computer screen as it buffers.

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  17. I can never comprehend why – in our ‘age of technology’ – we still have to sit through buffering. Really? Cable providers are all a money grab. I hope you have more success with things going forward.
    The US Open was good though. And if you like yogurt and salmon, together, I guess that was good news too. Sounds a bit retching but I’m sure I eat weird things too.

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  18. QueenOfPentacles

    I don’t know if you’ve already tried this, but a hard (heh heh) internet connection (e.g. Ethernet cable, T3) will often deliver media content at least twice as fast as wi-fi. Wi-fi’s bandwidth includes cell phones, internet connections, garage door openers, etc. – a lot of competition. If your computer has an Ethernet port try plugging an Ethernet cable directly into your computer rather than use a wi-fi connection. It may eliminate or at least diminish the buffering problem.

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  19. Chobani recall today. Couldn’t hear all the details. It had to do with mold. Not sure all flavors are affected or if it is geographic.

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  20. God Bless everyone that deals with a cable company. If I could find a way to watch football without the buffering problem I’d drop them in a heartbeat. Still waiting to find the perfect solution. It’s out there!
    Sending soothing, peace, ease and flow! 😉

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  21. Is there a sports bar in your neighborhood? You could view the finals for the price of a beer!

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  22. Streaming – don’t get me started! I stream BBC News every morning and it shows my service – we use Virgin here – up for what it is. Sorry you’ve had so much trouble accessing the tennis. Did you catch Murray losing in straight sets? Painful viewing from over here across the pond, even when the streaming is behaving itself.

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    • I missed the Murray match, but I was also dismayed when I heard he went packing with Roger Kate. But amazingly, this time the top two seeds on both the mens and womens sides reached the final. I was pleased that the #1 woman, Serena won yesterday, but I am rooting for #2, Rafa, to defeat #1, Djokovic.

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  23. I’ve often wondered about the term “buffering,” but I suppose “grinding to a halt” would take up too much bandwidth. My patience wears thin when I have to time something with a calendar.

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    • Mine too, Russell! In fact, right now, my patience is completely shot to hell and I’m just about ready for a strait jacket this method of watching a two-week long sporting event has been so insane.

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      • Aside from the NCAA basketball tournament in March that often leaks into early April and soccer’s World Cup, I don’t think any major sporting event needs to go on that long. Especially tennis.

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        • I disagree. Watching it from start to finish the level of skill displayed by the players that reached the finals on both the men’s and women’s side illustrates elite athleticism. I also appreciate the finesse involved and the elegance that is so often evident in styles of play. It is my favorite sport unlike American football which is so dangerous it might soon come with a Surgeon General’s warning or baseball. There’s nothing remotely worldly about the World Series. Tennis is that.

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          • Debating which sport is more pleasurable to watch is akin to debating which painting in the Louvre is the prettiest. Beauty is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder. I can watch a really great tennis match for about 30 minutes.

            I had a HS classmate who played professionally and made it to the quarters or semis at Wilmbledon in the 1980s. He played at Stanford just after McEnroe left. His older brother was an NCAA champ, I think, at South Carolina. I got excited when he played, but that’s about it.

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  24. You should send every member of the Board of Directors at Time Warner a gallon of salmon and dill froyo.

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  25. I pretty much get nothing accomplished during the US Open except being glued to my computer monitor. Thank you, USTA, for free online streaming. I’ve never had to deal with the buffering, thankfully…

    This made me laugh, as we don’t have TV and our watching strategies have to get pretty creative sometimes when we want to see something. Thanks!

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    • You must have infinitely superior Internet to what Time Warner Cable offers me. Even though you don’t have TV, check out PBS’s web site. On their American Masters series, they’ve just broadcast a terrific documentary on Billie Jean King. If it’s not available for streaming yet, it should be soon. Thanks for visiting Lame Adventures-land. I’ve headed over to your site where I saw your post about when you visited New York earlier this summer.

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  26. That Chobani flavor is so out of bounds. Double fault level.

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