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ESPN streaming service caught off guard by American interest in soccer

The WatchESPN feed of yesterday’s highly anticipated U.S.-Germany World Cup match crashed for some users who apparently put too much stock in the “Watch” portion of the streaming service’s brand. According to a report in the Daily Variety, traffic on the U.S.-Germany stream peaked at 1.4 million simultaneous streams, with a peak of 1.7 million streams overall. (Presumably, a large chunk of the other 300,000 viewers were watching the Portugal-Ghana tilt, which had implications for the United States’ World Cup hopes.) The issues were especially evident near the beginning of the game, as thwarted viewers took to Twitter to bitch about malfunctioning streams, thereby fulfilling the primary use of Twitter—to complain about some other online service that’s not working. (When Twitter isn’t working, you complain about that using Yo.)

Because the glitches threatened ESPN’s quadrennial campaign to convince America it is a soccer-loving nation, a company executive minimized the problems, characterizing them as “limited” and claiming that they mainly happened at the beginning of the match. (Awful Announcing’s Ken Fang disputes this, noting that problems persisted throughout the broadcast, but it’s hard to determine how many people shared his woes.) ESPN public relations rep Bill Hofmeier even went so far as to blame the entire Internet, claiming the global network was “never tested like this for [a] sports event.” Or, to paraphrase Kent Brockman, “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Internet simply does not work.” 

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