Well, OK, it wasn’t on my TV, but the HBL.TV broadcast I watched last night between Flensburg and Hamburg on my computer monitor was indeed of TV quality. HBL.TV www.hbl.tv is the video streaming platform of the German Bundesliga and it’s definitely an improvement over previous video I’ve watched on my computer.
Using my own personal 1-10 scale, with a 1 being a 1970ish over air reception on a small Black and White TV and a 10 being an HDTV transmission on a big screen plasma set, I grade the experience as a 7. The picture was clear with no pixilation- By no means HD quality, but just as good as your standard TV set. The audio was clear, with an occasional dropout that didn’t effect the video. As I don’t know any German, this wasn’t a problem, however. Crowd atmosphere and whistles still could be heard. Bottom line: a “7” score is pretty good and is a significant upgrade from earlier experiences which were closer to a “3” for free EHF video in 2006 and a “5” for the World Championships video this past January.
As for why the quality has improved I would guess that it’s a combination of improved streaming technology as well as my willingness to pay for the maximum high speed line (10MB), which is a little more expensive, but worth it if you think that Internet TV is going to be your only handball viewing option for the near future. A few notes:
[b]How to setup your account[/b]: Well if you know a little German it’s going to be easier for you then it was for me. The site is entirely void of English and you’ll be sure to give the babelfish translator a workout: http://babelfish.altavista.com/tr. You first have to register on the site by entering the standard name, address and date of birth information. One tip on something that stumped me for several minutes: In the country drop down menu the United States is Vereinigte Staaten. Once you have your account registered you then have to purchase credits. You can buy the whole season for 54.99 Euros, but you might want to just purchase 1 game first to see if it works for you. The lowest credit that you can purchase is 5 Euros and a match costs 3 Euros. Another tip: you’ve got to buy the credit before you can actually buy a match.
[b]What to purchase:[/b] I recommend that you look for matches which feature 2 of the following 6 teams: Kiel, Flensburg, Hamburg, Gummersbach, Nordhorn, and Madgeburg. The rosters for these teams are loaded with top international players from around the world. That’s not to say that a team from the bottom half of the league won’t challenge these teams from time to time, but with limited time you might as well see the best teams play each other.
[b]The future: [/b] Well as I cracked open a beer and watched high level handball in the peace and quiet of the computer room I couldn’t help but think how this could be so much better. For starters, it would be nice to watch it on the big TV in the living room. English language commentary would be nice as well. How about a Champions League package for purchase? The good news is all of these things are coming and sooner that we all might think.
[b]Earlier Reviews of Handball Video Streaming:[/b]
EHF Champions League Video Review (March 2006): http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?extend.37
World Championship’s VideoSport Broadcast Review (Is it Worth the 19.99 Euros?)(January 2007): http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.242
World Championship’s VideoSport Broadcast Review (Part 2): http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.251