Technical difficulties on ESPN+.

Not airing the finish of a close sports game has created some backlash for broadcasters over the years, from NBC’s infamous Heidi NFL game in 1968 through a failed local weather cut-in on Columbus’ CBS affiliate at the end of an Elite Eight game in 2017 through a Houston NBC affiliate cutting to local news ahead of the finish of Texans-Bengals later in 2017. Sometimes endings have been missed due to technical difficulties, too, from DirecTV customers losing the double-overtime finish of Stanford-UCLA in 2015 to  a power outage that hit a St. Louis NBC affiliate in 2016 during a Blues’ playoff game to ESPN viewers missing the end of a CFL game in 2017. The latest case in point here comes from a crazy ending in the Ball State-Western Michigan game Saturday, where ESPN+ wound up missing the officials’ final ruling and explanation (which was that Western Michigan’s final touchdown didn’t count thanks to an illegal forward pass) due to technical difficulties. Here’s a look at that play:

As the @SportsCenter and @ESPN mentions illustrate, though, people weren’t happy that the broadcast missed the officials’ ruling:

Those are certainly some unfortunately-timed technical difficulties. And while fans were able to see what happened on the field before the broadcast cut out, they weren’t able to see the officials’ ruling that indicated that the touchdown didn’t count. And this is one area where streaming broadcasts (which are per game rather than per channel) have a disadvantage compared to linear TV broadcasts; if this had been on a linear channel, the ESPN studio could have updated viewers on what the ruling was even if the video feed from the stadium was lost. Instead, fans just got “Technical difficulties” and had to look elsewhere to find the outcome.

{Photo via @AVKingJames on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.