Handball Video Streaming ($43 vs. Free): Hmmm…. I’ll take Free, Thank You

It never ceases to amaze me the varied options that have been provided for watching handball video over the web in the past couple of years. You never know what you’re going to get and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the pricing strategies being employed.

Case in point is the dramatically different prices offered recently for two products from the same parent entity, the EHF. For the Men’s European Handball Championships in January a variety of packages were offered with a complete pass topping out at 29.99 Euros or $43 with the current lackluster value of the US Dollar of late. For $43 customers were subjected to shoddy customer service, appallingly poor English commentary, complete drop outs of video, and misleading pronouncements that you could watch any game on demand any time you want. And that’s just some of the problems, I put together in a 4 page missive that I wrote to the EHF asking for restitution for handball fans everywhere.

And then one week later the EHF provides Champions League matches for free. Maybe the dramatic price drop was the EHF’s way of saying sorry, but whatever the rationale, I can’t complain this time around. The bit rate is about 600 kbs which gives a similar quality to that which was seen with the European Handball Championships. Sure, I’d like the great picture that the HBL provides with 1,500 kbs and it would be nice if there was good English Language commentary, but I’ll take arena sounds over the commentary provided in Norway any time. And video on demand, that would allow me to watch the game at my leisure instead of Saturday morning would be great too. All those things would be nice, but when the price is nothing, I’m not going to complain.

Some might argue that the European Championships is a dramatically more important event and provides viewers better handball. While National team competition is compelling, particularly for the nations involved, I would argue that the Champions League is actually a better product for a number of reasons. With a few exceptions all of the World’s top players are still playing and instead of playing together as an all-star team with a couple of weeks of practice prior to the tournament they are practicing with their clubs all season. On top of that the competition is over several weeks instead of compressed into a two week tournament that doesn’t allow for sufficient rest.

So overall, I would argue that we have a bizarre situation where the free product is better then the $43 product. The EHF is offering 3 more free games this weekend. Let’s hope that this good deal continues.