Improve the quality of the Ice Network service
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In the United States, fans of figure skating watch the sport online via the Ice Network (IN) streaming service. IN is a paid subscription service owned by United States Figure Skating (USFS) and a joint venture between USFS and MLB Advanced Media.
It's not uncommon for viewers to complain about the poor quality of IN's stream, which is frequently choppy, drops audio, and cannot withstand sizable viewership. When viewers contact IN's Customer Support, they are met with canned responses, placing the fault of their connection woes on the user. If a viewer posts to the IN forum about stream quality, these posts are ignored.
Subscribers pay approximately $50 for an annual subscription for access to view a wide array of domestic and international competitions. As IN is the exclusive broadcast rights holder in the United States, other options frequently force viewers to watch streams from other nations, or to wait until a user with a good connection shares a copy to Youtube or other video service.
Over the weekend of September 15th, 2016, IN subscribers experienced an extraordinarily poor feed beyond the usual broadcast hiccups while watching the US International Classic in Salt Lake City, Utah. Entire programs were essentially unwatchable, leaving skating fans incredibly irate. The IN forum was flooded with complaints and eventually closed to comments; users flocked to social media and websites to air their grievances.
By comparison, the International Skating Union's Junior Grand Prix (ISU JGP) series offers a free YouTube channel with live streaming of competitions. While no stream is perfect, whatever ISU JGP is doing works, and works well.
It's clear that the problems with Ice Network can no longer be ignored, and either United States Figure Skating or Ice Network must take steps to address them. This petition asks for USFS/IN, along with its partner in MLB Advanced Media, to be accountable for the quality of its service and fix the obvious problems with streams–even at low-level competitions. Paid subscribers deserve to know that the service they pay for can be relied upon.
As evidenced by the ISU JGP streams, figure skating can be broadcast in an easy, accessible format. Ice Network subscribers deserve an online service worthy of showcasing this sport and its athletes.
It's time to let our voices be heard and demand United States Figure Skating to #FixIceNetwork!
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