ESPN Live Stream Crashes During USA-Germany World Cup Match

ESPN Crashes During World Cup
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Sports giant cites 'unprecedented demand' for issues; Univision reports no outages with 750,000 peak concurrent streams

Many users across the U.S. were unable to access ESPN’s WatchESPN video-streaming service as the USA-Germany match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off at noon Eastern time on Thursday.

An ESPN rep said the sports programmer was “investigating some limited issues due to unprecedented demand.” WatchESPN viewership for the first half of the USA-Germany match peaked at more than 1.4 million concurrent viewers.

During the match, WatchESPN peaked at 1.7 million concurrent users — a record for the service — but that was across all live streams, not just the USA-Germany match. The pivotal Portugal-Ghana match was streaming at the same time, along with ESPN’s live Wimbledon coverage.

The match was a critical one for the U.S. national soccer team. Despite its 1-0 loss to Germany, the Americans advanced to the round of 16 after Portugal beat Ghana 2-1.

Univision Communications, which holds the Spanish-language broadcast and Internet-streaming rights to the 2014 World Cup, apparently did not have similar issues delivering the live stream online. In fact, Univision Digital delivered 750,000 live concurrent streams for the USA vs. Germany match, a record for the company. “Our live stream absolutely did not experience any outages,” a rep said.

The WatchESPN issues may have been related to the infrastructure that handles the authentication process to verify a user’s pay-TV subscription, which ESPN requires to access the service. (Univision’s Internet stream is available free to all users in the initial rounds, but will require authenticated pay-TV logins starting July 4.) ESPN declined to provide details on the WatchESPN problems except to note the service saw record demand over a short period of time.

Multiple Twitter users cited an inability to access the WatchESPN website or apps:

Some other recent high-profile TV events streamed over the Internet have encountered glitches. This March, ABC’s first-ever livestream of the Oscars through the Watch ABC app was unavailable for most of the evening. A rep for the network blamed “a traffic overload/greater than expected” for the outage.

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  1. Bob says:

    They charge ridiculously for providing the streams. Someone suggested a website for live streams, and they don’t show any pop up ads. Probably we have to watch rest of the games on such websites with live streams.

  2. GozieBoy says:

    This “crush” of sudden interest in the World Cup correlates perfectly with the crush of Obama illegal aliens flooding across the border. Meanwhile, support for soccer among legal Americans remains unchanged.

    • ZoG says:

      Unlikely. I’ve known Mexicans who have been here for 20 years and wouldn’t be caught dead cheering for any team other than Mexico. They refuse to be Americans and cheering for our team is like a sin to them. If USMNT viewership is increasing, it is because more non-latino Americans are tuning in. Sorry my friend. I think football is silly but I don’t personally feel the need to click on every NFL related story and tell people that. I’m not sure why there is so much soccerphobia in America.

    • That explains all the white americans (including myself, you ignorant tool) that filled Grant Park, or streamed at work or school, or watched on TV

  3. Snuff1 says:

    Anything using flash player on ESPN’s site crashes quite often. They sound like the gov’t citing “high demand” for their failure.

  4. Pretty hilarious that ESPN cites “unprecedented” demand when ESPN was sending out emails about every 10 minutes telling everyone to watch the games online. Sounds like someone got caught with their server-room pants down.

  5. Jamescottle says:

    It’s soccer folks.
    A real tough decision: to watch WNBA or Soccer?
    Thank God, the Kardashians were on!

  6. Roundup_Logan says:

    Ummm, the NFL Superbowl in January got 111.5 million viewers. I’d say soccer is a pretty lame “sport” for Americans anyway and ESPN is lame if they crash at 1.4 million viewers. I read articles now where some journalists are just beside themselves at how America has embraced soccer (or they’re trying to hype it that way). You’ve got to be kidding me. When the World Cup can come close to a Monday Night NFL Game in viewership (12 to 15 million viewers average), then you can say Americans are taking a liking to soccer. Otherwise it’s just some obscure game our kids play (like dodge ball and red rover red rover) because the urban parents don’t want their children to get hurt and everyone can get a trophy because really there’s no winners or loosers.

    • Fernando says:

      Might be confusing TV Viewers with Internet Viewers. The previous U.S. game atracted 24,7 million TV viewers (some in ABC some in Univision). The note is not to praise soccer over any other sport, nor to “sell” it to NFL or NBA fans, it’s just to follow up on a series of indicators that this type of events bring out: the shift from TV to on-line, the struggle on TV networks to serve all platforms, etc. The soccer World Cup is the major sports event out of US, it’s used by companies like Sony, AT&T, ESPN, to test new technology and the feasablity of it’s success world wide. This year it has been suprising how the US non-hispanic public has got more involved in it but as the NY Times noted “While not near the totals scored by the N.F.L. playoffs or, certainly, the Super Bowl, the American audience for the World Cup game on Sunday easily eclipsed the N.B.A. finals this year, which averaged 15.5 million viewers, as well as the 2013 World Series, which averaged 14.9 million viewers. The N.H.L. playoffs are not even remotely as popular as the World Cup, having averaged only five million viewers this season.” No race nor political nor sportship debate, just a simple technical note on blackout problems due to apparent unexpected high demand. FYI I love soccer, and also like what we call “American Football” and Baseball (local and American); not a great basketball nor hockey fan. Peace to all

    • Hugsnkisses says:

      It’s funny how many haters there are when it comes to the soccer conversation. I’m happy it bothers you. I’m also happy the sport isn’t the most popular in our country because average American is a moron (see Obama voter) and the fewer of you filling the bar when an important game is on the better. Keep hating dumba$$!

      • Roungup_Logan says:

        Hugsnkisses – ahhh, let’s see. You call me a Obama voter, you hang out in bars, think soccer is important, and you think soccer bothers me. How you gleaned all that from what I wrote speaks volumes about your mental state. First off, I don’t hang out in bars, gave that up when I grew up 30 years ago. Also, hanging out in bars during the day even when I was young was counter productive to earning a living if you catch my drift. With regards to Obama and politics, I’d be more than happy to debate politics with you if you think you could keep up with me, I will confess though I’ve got an extensive knowledge of our founding documents, the biographies of our founders, and the debates from all the Consitutional ratification conventions. It’s one of my favorite pastimes reading and studying history. I have quite an extensive library I’ve built over the years. You might even be impressed. And as far as soccer is concerned, while Rome burns, the best the media has to offer is coverage of the World Cup. And they’re hyping it like it’s comparable to the Apollo missions to the moon. Quite frankly, I think it’s a page 19 or 20 article for the newspaper. What say you?

      • Roungup_Logan says:

        TJ – Let me get this straight. The rest of the world is the “Big Boys” yet they’re feminized floppers. Personally, I don’t give a rip about the rest of the world. That seems to be one of our big problems here in the USA. We’re embracing everything from the rest of the world. My big issue is how the media is hyping this as some huge phenomena when in fact it’s not. And when I see soccer fans trashing cities after a game, it reminds me of the L.A. riots. No, I don’t want to bring the mayhem that follows all the soccer fans from the rest of the world to our cities here in the USA. I see the hispanics had a grand time in California tearing things up after a game. Don’t see of that after an NFL game.

    • TJ says:

      Yeah! Who the hell wants to be able to compete highly with the rest of the world at their own game! Geez man, get over yourself. I don’t mind it whatsoever, and I played football in college and don’t give 2 hoots about soccer… But it would be nice to play with the “big boys” instead of getting beat-down by feminized floppers, no?

  7. slick1ru2 says:

    Meh. It was a speed bump and nothing compared to what happened to my Comcast connection to ESPN3 (and everything else streaming) during the game last weekend, which we gave up on and watched on Univision OTA. Today’s game froze for about half a minute or so, if that. Being a cord cutter, I’ve seen much worse. That being said, I have Dish on standby and fully expect to have to fire it back up for football season, especially for college games. The problem I see with Watch ESPN, since day one, has been it dropping to SD and even sub 480p and that’s with me having an 18mbps DL connection with one of their ‘partners’, Comcast. It’s like watching a YouTube video that’s 240p and then it will teasingly go back to 720p for a few minutes before returning to mush. Today’s game, the first half was mostly in HD for us, the second half was mostly a blur fest. I guess I can rest assured that most of say, Africa, probably has a similar online experience. Dear FCC: Epic Fail.

  8. Messi fanatic says:

    These guys aren’t ready for an online culture,and they are Disney owned! There are 340,000,000 Americans and they crashed at 1,700,000, they better not put popular on line that would 10-15-20 million viewers. The TV business is alive and well but it’s not because of the Internet hype. It’s because of the domestic. Cable distribution business.

  9. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha says:

    Good indicator of how many Hispanics are in the US

  10. limboaz says:

    I don’t have ESPN in my cable package, so I just watch the Univision stream which has been working great. They have apps for android and iPhone. So far no problems, and best of all, I’m not getting squeezed for an overpriced cable bundle to see the game.

  11. Hank Hill says:

    Soccer was invented by European ladies so they’d have something to do while their husbands did the cooking.

  12. yarply says:

    the world falling apart all around us and all you can hear is soccer soccer soccer. What a bunch of losers.

    • ZoG says:

      Yep, and the average American spends more time watching the NFL in a single week than he spends being politically active in an entire year. Most people can’t be bothered to spend 5 minutes researching a candidate, but they can sit in front of football and basketball for 10 hours on a Sunday. I’d say that soccer is the least of our worries.

  13. Yep, crashed for me too on Comcast / Xfinity.

  14. rob says:

    had trouble with verizon wireless and then when that worked trouble with espn.

    never did get it to stream… at all

  15. Don Q says:

    These outages were more than a glitch. All Comcast Xfinity customers in Houston missed the entire 2nd half of the USA game via online streaming, or NOT streaming to be more accurate.

  16. Piggly Winks says:

    Watch the Univision stream. much better than the library-setting of ESPN. Even my kids, who don’t speak spanish, ask me to turn it to that station.

    • Jay in DC says:

      Same here. I had them both open and when the ESPN feed dropped I switched to Univision. Their quality is also WAY higher and you don’t really need to listen to announcers to know what is happening on screen.

  17. Willys Bw says:

    I lost my cable video feed shortly after the second half began. Audio was not affected. Switched to streaming ESPN on Roku. Rebooted cable box during stream but ESPN never came back up – til after game. No other cable programming was affected.

    I don’t care who those arrogant b’stards think the are… NO EXCUSES!

    • Messi fanatic says:

      Did ESPN stop on your cable system? Do you think that the cable company or ESPN was delivering on line over the net?

  18. I started to watch online and when it didn’t work too well, I used my ‘work excuse’ note from the coach and went to Applebee’s to watch. I am now back at work and the guy sitting next to me said I don’t smell like beer So all is good!

  19. Chris says:

    I’m not too surprised. I’ve actually preferred being at work this week because watching the ESPN and ESPN2 streams concurrently at my desk is more convenient.

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