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From the "it's always some damned thing" department, today's very exciting WFTDA Quarterfinal and Semifinal action was marred for many of you by a very untimely spate of poor service from Justin.tv, the low-cost streaming provider we frequently rely on as our streaming service. We've found Justin.tv to frequently be a very serviceable solution, but from time to time, they can't handle the load of everything that's going on through them, and the result is choppiness or freezes that make things almost unwatchable.
Similar problems occurred on the second day of WFTDA's North Central Region Playoffs this year. To address the problem, we switched to USTREAM.tv for the day, which performed just fine. For various reasons, we prefer Justin.tv's offering, so on the third day of that event, when Justin.tv had returned to solid performance, we switched back. USTREAM is a similar service, with similar drawbacks -- they can get overloaded at completely unpredictable times. Every time is a crapshoot, although one with really good odds.
Today, the number came up. It could come up tomorrow, too. We could try USTREAM tomorrow to see if it works better. We could try Justin.tv again in case the problem has cleared up; we could try both, go with whichever works best, switch back and forth if they struggle. We could pull our hair out, while you all do the same at home.
We're not going to do that. We're going to work it out.
Many of you indicated that you'd happily accept a pay per view option if it guaranteed the quality. We are not inclined to hide our video stream behind a paywall, because DNN's mission is to make the sport accessible to the widest possible audience. We're also wary of the split model, where you can pay for a high quality stream if you don't find the free stream to be adequate, for a number of reasons I'll elaborate on in a followup post after the weekend. The short form is, when Justin.tv or USTREAM.tv don't work well enough, the split-mode model fails to satisfy DNN's wide-audience mission.
The bottom line: for the WFTDA 3rd Place and Championship bouts, we're going to move to a streaming service that provides guaranteed quality. It's going to cost a chunk of money. We're not going to require anyone to pay for it, because we are serious about our mission to make derby as accessible as possible. We are, however, going to count on those of you who are willing to pay for quality to help us foot the bill.
To sweeten the deal, we're making the 2010 contribution premiums available again, for a limited time. We'd like to thank Flat Track Revolution once again for creating such an amazing design, and for hand-screening it onto high-quality clothes and accessories as gifts for people whose contributions make DNN possible.