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The ESPN360 experience: A personal report card

I watched my first online college basketball game last night -- Maryland's 85-66 rout of Virginia -- which was streamed live on ESPN360.

Let's start with this: the picture-quality is not great. It's not as grainy as the NASA video of man's first walk on the moon. But it's not exactly a high-def experience, either.

More like something in-between, a tad on the blurry side, like what it must be to watch a game when you're having a migraine or just finished huffing paint.

(Unfortunately, the picture-quality was good enough that we could see Greivis Vasquez's new 'do, some kind of upswept-in-the-middle thing that made him look like, I don't know, Rooster Head or something.)

The game announcers were also a little shaky, especially analyst Dwight Freeman, who was introduced as the former coach of Norfolk State.

At one point, referring to the voluble Vasquez, Freeman noted that "these European players" always play with a lot of enthusiasm.

Play-by-play guy Quint Kessenich quickly pointed out that Vasquez hails from Caracas, Venezuela.

"That's not in Europe," Kessenich pointed out helpfully. Then he took another playful jab at his partner by noting he probably wasn't very good in geography when he was in school.

The other thing is, you can't really get as comfortable as you'd like watching a game on your computer -- unless you're watching on a laptop and can sprawl on a couch somewhere. I was watching it on my home PC, which meant spending two hours at a desk and in an office chair.

Maybe I should have swilled a few beers to get through the whole thing. But it was Monday night, a little early in the week for that sort of thing.

But all in all, it wasn't a terrible experience. And it was better than not watching the game at all. (It wasn't broadcast on TV since it was a make-up of the game snowed-out last week.)

And Maryland certainly looked impressive, getting it's transition game going and drubbing the Cavaliers behind the 30-point effort of Vasquez.

Vasquez -- isn't he the European guy? I heard that somewhere...

Comments

Very pleased.
I thought the announcers were fine. Geography aside, Mr. Freeman's point was valid. Foreign players have panache. I especially liked Freeman's reference to Skip Wise.
The best thing about the announcing duo? There were no Barry brothers within miles.

Watch 360 for the first time myself and I felt the same way, the picture was not great especially when the action was moving quick. But Mr Freeman kept referring to Greivius as Vaz'Quez which was driving me nuts. All in all it was better than not watching it at all but I had to stop when 24 came on tv and I only watched the game during commercial breaks of 24.

I thought Freeman was interesting, but can't argue with criticisms that he was sloppy. He couldn't pronounce Vasquez, which wasn't annoying until about the 300th time he said it. At one point he mentioned that the Terps were up by more than 30 when in fact it was only 23 or 24 points. Kessenich seemed a little uneven working with the director, coming in and out of breaks.

My biggest complaint was that with Maryland taking a commanding lead the duo seemed to drift off topic and basically stopped commenting on specific game action. Whereas in the first half Freeman was particularly good at framing what has happening on the court.

As for the quality of the broadcast online, it's funny that we're basically back to the picture quality we used to get over the air on channel 54 back in the eighties. Which is fine, except that was free and now I'm paying Comcast $60 a month for the privilege of them lifting their ban on ESPN360 content.

Drove me crazy hearing Freeman mispronounce Vasquez's name as Vas-qWez EVERY time. Can't you even learn to pronounce the star players names on each team before the game? Isn't there a production crew that can correct him during a timeout?

In the future, check out Boxee for when you have to watch TV on your computer. It allows you to hook up your computer to the TV and then control the feed as if it were on the TV. It's great for watching games on ESPN360 and TV shows on Hulu.

Even though the quality is not the best you can connect your PC/Laptop to your TV and with the bigger screen it is a little more enjoyable.

I'm still so desperate to find Terps-Ravens-O's here in NYC, that I don't care how clear the screen is. Once it becomes easier to access this stuff, I'm sure I'll get picky about the picture quality, etc. Sometimes my feed just blacked out and I had to restart it, which was annoying. You should get the latest iMac-- huge screens-- I was able to watch it from the couch. I suspect as TV and Internet continue to merge, more of us will have computer screens near our couches. And any tandem is better than Duke-loving Mike Patrick and Dickie V...go Terps!

A slight pass on the lack of prep (pronunciations and more) since they were likely thrown together as a last minute replacement team since the game was originally scheduled for Wednesday. He should've caught on with the name after his partner kept saying it differently.

The real gripe is the ACC selling it's soul to ESPN and allowing any games to end up on ESPN360 -- these should be sold locally to WNUV, WTTG, MASN or Comcast Sports Net, but they can't get the rights.

If you have a hi-def TV I am surprised you did not hook up your PC to it and watch that way. That's what I did, and since I just got the TV (borrowed it from one of my kids, actually) I am not accustomed to seeing the games in HD anyway, so this was not too bad an experience. It was a little better than all those football games last fall where I had to do the same thing but was watching on a regular TV instead of HDTV.

It was a third (or fourth) rate broadcasting team but all in all they were tolerable. I cared more about the game than their coverage anyway. I'd have preferred one of the regular ACC teams on the regular Raycom network but I guess that was not an option for some reason, probably because ESPN had contract rights to the game.

never huffed paint before but Kevin I'll take your word for it. watching was better then nothing but I turned off the sound and used terps radio crew who always do a good job

I couldnt get the video to stream. I have standard Comcast service. Is there something else you have to do?

I watched it also....although with hesitance. My first time watching a game on my computer also, but at least I got to see the game. Have a 22' monitor, so that was somewhat helpful.
The announcers were not real good....but that's why I had the UConn - Villanova game turned up....lol

No complaints here. It has given me the chance to watch the Terps in Colorado and that's good enough for me!

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