Friday, July 06, 2007

Your best bet for watching cricket in the US

Like most people I like free stuff. And if someone is showing cricket for free, you can bet I'm all over it. But I also love my cricket. And the twain have never reconciled. Free cricket is usually the size of a postage stamp, fraught with unreliable streaming and full of frustration. In fact, most cheap streaming is also this way.

So when it comes to cricket I dig deep into my pocket, wince a few times and spend big. For the upcoming Indian tour of England, I will sign up for DishTV's Pay Per View telecast which also has a tie-in with willow.tv's streaming broadcast ($99.95).


In my opinion this is a killer combo: you get to watch the telecast with the unparalleled clarity and reliability (comparatively anyway) of satellite TV but you can also watch it on the Internet if you happen to be away from your home. I tried this during the recent World Cup.

Willow.tv's service was fairly simple to use. You sign up, provide them with an IP address, wait for a day or so and you are all set! You can use a site like whatismyip.com to get your IP address. An IP address assigned via DHCP will work fine - even if you are behind corporate security. Most DHCP servers are configured to give you a lease on an IP address that lasts for weeks so your IP will likely not change through the duration of the series.

The streaming video on willow.tv was of an acceptable size and almost always reliable - even for the most popular games.

But where they really shine is in their interactive highlights feature. This is essentially a scorecard of the game - but with names, events and numbers linked to video clips. Click on Tendulkar's score and you'll see highlights of his innings. Click on the number of fours he hit and you'll see all of them one after another. Click on Muralidharan's 10 overs and you'll see highlights, click on his 4 wickets and you'll see each of them stream on video.

This is video on demand on steroids and a terrific way of indexing a video stream. How often have I wanted to watch an awesome catch in a game but had to wait for a ton of streaming to go by before I came to the right spot? This takes that pain away.

And in case you are a traditionalist, willow.tv will also show a complete highlights package (called produced highlights) like you're used to seeing on broadcast TV.

So take my word for it: if you are true-blue cricket fan, sign up for the DishTV-willow.tv combo. You'll enjoy cricket at home and boring conference calls at work will now be a thing of the past.

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