Thursday, 27 May 2010

Watching the Cricket in America

America has very little interest in or knowledge about cricket and cricket lovers like me have to do a little extra work to bring the content into our homes.  This morning, the first English home test match of the summer begins. It is not exactly a thriller, England v. Bangladesh at Lords, but cricket lovers will enjoy it nevertheless, not least because of the joyous Test Match Special, which is streamed live on the website with no lock-down to international users like me, at least for the home tests like this.

But what about watching the Test Matches if you are in America?  There are two legal ways to do this.  One is to get satellite TV.  Direct TV have cornered the market here, but I think you can get hold of cricket on Dish too.  This is not an option for us after the trauma of trying to get satellite installed in order to watch the cricket four years ago, a story detailed on The Americanization of Emily.

The second legal option is the one that I go for: Willow TV.  It's pretty good and it is getting better all the time.  This year it is $150 for all international cricket for the entire year, test matches, one dayers, Twenty20, in all countries.  This is far, far cheaper than the equivalent satellite price, either here or back in England.  It streams at a reasonable quality, similar, say, to watching the BBC iPlayer live.  If you have a good internet connection and router, it will stream without interruption.  They have a choice of different feeds and the one I always go for is the feed that comes directly from Sky, which enables you to watch in wide screen when you plug the laptop into the TV, and which retains all the Sky adverts, which gives the Resident Alien a great taste of home.

One thing I like about Willow is that it is just username and password based, so you can watch on any computer you like, at home or at work (shh!), as long as you don't do anything daft like trying to watch it on two machines at once.  The only disadvantage is that the live feed has a delay of about 15-20 seconds, so you can't really watch it with the sound down while listening to TMS, unless, of course, you would like to hear the commentary first so that you know to pay special attention to the pictures when something really exciting happens.

I should add that I am not on commission here, but mention it because a lot of people do not realize that Willow TV provides such a good solution for the cricket lover out here.  I only discovered it by accident back in 2006.


awindram said...

Interesting, I had no idea about Willow TV, just been making do with Test Match Special. Does Willow use sky sports feed for England matches or its own commentary team? Be a shame not to listen to the likes of Gower and Botham for that sort of money.

Mark Goodacre said...

Yes, it uses the Sky Sports feed so you get the whole thing, including the lunch time chat with Gower and Botham et al. In fact it usually provides two different feeds, one of which is the whole Sky feed and one of which is from Star Sports or somewhere like that. But even the latter has the Sky commentary.

awindram said...

Thanks. That's good to know. Hopefully my finances will be in better shape come the Ashes tour and I can have a splurge on this.

Jonathan (a different one) said...

How are you listening to TMS? If you're streaming that, you might be able to work out a way to pause it into sync. If you extract the relevant URL you could try it out with various media players (VLC, SMPlayer, etc) and experiment.

Mark Goodacre said...

I usually just listen online via the iPlayer, but it's a good idea to do what you suggest. I'll try it next time. I use VLC a good deal and I bet it would be do-able. Thanks.