Not all software or web interfaces are very good – congratulations ADP on winning gold for “most-stupid password requirements of 2014″ – so it’s nice to be able to give praise to a good one.
If, like me, you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably watched your fair share of Olympic events recently.
Most of my viewing was through the Canadian CBC – US channels were available, but, you know – and in fact most events I watched online. It’s just easier to pretend to work when you can watch a video stream on a computer (don’t try and tell me you don’t know what I mean)!
What helped is that the CBC had a really nice interface for viewing the live video streams. They were a bit hidden on the web site, but great when I found them. The controls looked like this:
OK, the design is really basic – a simple play/pause button with volume control just about covers it – but what I liked is that they had obviously thought about the sports fan in general. For example, I was watching Canada vs US in the women’s hockey final and started watching about an hour after the actual start, plus had to keep pausing the feed to do real work.
Then it was this part of the interface that really mattered:
Notice that goals and penalties are shown on the timeline (as clickable icons, incidentally) but only up to the point I’ve watched. If I’d paused the video but the timeline kept updating it would have spoiled watching as I’d have known about events in advance.
What’s also good is if I’ve watched past that point, then the icons remain if I rewind to replay something, so I can flip back and forth at will. But I never see markers for events past where I’ve watched up to. Awesome!
Likewise with the shortcuts to each period:
See how they didn’t add a shortcut to “overtime” while I was still watching the 2nd/3rd period? That too would have been a downer, because then I would have known Canada had come back to force overtime and the third period would have been way less exciting. True sports fans will totally understand what I mean. The OT shortcut is there now, but by now you’ll know the result.
The interface also had a stats button and…
…Hey Presto! It only shows the stats up to the point I’ve watched in the video, which is again very good indeed. For a start it must be hard to synchronize stats against a video feed, which is obviously what they’ve done because that functionality is still there (try it).
But mostly I’m giving the CBC kudos for thinking about this at all. It would have been all too easy to thoughtlessly show live stats against a delayed feed, but obviously they took that into account in their design. And, of course, this is doubly important when most of the events are taking place between midnight and 6am in Canada, and folk are only tuning in to watch sometime the next day.
I’m not just impressed but very happy the setup enhanced my Olympic viewing. Thanks CBC! Good work.
NB: I did take these screenshots well after the event. At the time I was too busy jumping up and down screaming at the screen. What a game! What a comeback!
PS: Since I posted this I noticed (via a hint from this blog) that you have to get onto the event when it’s still going. If you went to the hockey page after the game finished then it did show the “overtime” tag. So maybe not quite as good as I thought, but still not bad. Oh! And I agree with that blog about ads. I didn’t see any on the live web stream and it made for a way better experience.