iPhone Life magazine

The Afternoon the Lights Went Out in Seattle, Or The Right Way to Watch a Football Game on an iPad During a Power Outage

In Seattle, the Seahawks divisional playoff game was a big deal. So was the storm that arrived hours before the game. At 4:30 a.m. we lost power. The game started at 1:30 p.m. As the time drew near, it was clear that the power wasn’t going to return in time. What to do?

I hit Google with a query, “Seahawks playoff streaming.” I had an Internet connection, since AT&T’s 3G LTE was still rolling. I live on the edge of the network, and usually rely on my personal AT&T microcell, but with the power out, that of course, wasn’t working.
Fortunately, three bars proved sufficient.

To my surprise, the web informed me that for this game, I didn’t need an NFL Network subscription, I just needed the Fox Sports Go app (Free. Note: requires qualified cable company subscription to receive the feed.)

But just an app on the iPad wasn’t enough. I went out into the garage and grabbed an unused table and cozied it up to the couch. I retrieved my Logitech UE Boombox to fill the room with Bluetooth-connected sound. I mounted my iPad in my nimblestand.

I then went to my travel drawer and picked out a big backup battery from Lenmar and a spare Lightning cable and brought those to the table. No need to run down the iPad Air’s battery while streaming video.

And that would be the trick wouldn’t it, streaming the football game for several hours over AT&T’s network? I only pay for 3GB a month, so I knew I might be expecting a bigger bill for January.

At exactly 1:30 p.m. I fired up everything and tapped on the Fox Sports Go app, and sure enough, just below NASCAR, was the Seahawks playoff game. One tap and it launched immediately. Early in the game the app imparted some jitters and a commercial reset loop, so I killed it and relaunched the app. And yes, while my wife and I were watching parts of the same commercial over and over, the game was playing without us. Luckily, and mysteriously, the issue with video looping and resetting didn’t reoccur (I experience similar behavior with CNN’s streaming feed on a regular basis).

So we snuggled up on the couch with snacks and drinks at hand and watched the Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints. I grew up watching television in my room on a ten-inch black-and-white television. It is amazing that even with today’s expectations for big screens, watching a show on an iPad, even with other people, isn’t all that bad. We could read the score and ball position from three or more feet away. Most people under 40 only have fuzzy memories of fuzzy video streamed over the air to tiny screens in something like 300x480i.

We stopped the video during halftime, and then restarted it fifteen minutes later to save power and the 3G allocation. And soon after halftime, the alarm beeped and the clocks started flashing and the television went into standby mode. The power had returned. I quickly stopped the stream. When I examined my cellular data settings it read 2.7GB. It was going to be close, but I could probably make it through the month relying on WiFi.

So, watching this game wasn't an eat-up-the-room neighborhood spectacle that most people attempt during a major playoff game, but the intimate experience worked for us. And in the end, the Seahawks won and moved on. Now we just have to hope that the power, the running game, and pass all hold up against the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday. Go Hawks.

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future and Management by Design, is a strategist, industry analyst, and business correspondent for iPhone Life magazine. Prior to starting his own consulting practice, Rasmus was the Director of Business Insights at Microsoft Corporation, where he helped the company envision how people will work in the future.

Before joining Microsoft, Rasmus was Research Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research Inc. Rasmus also is an internationally recognized speaker. He blogs regularly for Fast Company and on his own blog, Your Future in Context. His education-related work can be found at Learning Reimagined.