F1 TV suffers glitch-filled disastrous debut

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Expectations were high for F1 fans awaiting the grand debut of Formula 1's over-the-top streaming service, but all they've received so far is a glitch-filled, buffering disaster.

After an indispensable period of beta testing, the much hyped service was officially rolled out on Friday in Barcelona, and F1i was among those writhing in anticipation.

There weren't any complications accessing the platform but from the outset the live feed on Friday was inconsistent, with teething buffering issues incessantly disrupting the stream. Unfortunately, it all went from bad to worse on Saturday.

For FP3, we were greeted with a strange message telling us "You’ve reached the maximum number of concurrent streams on your account", quite unusual as we were accessing the service from a single device.

Frustratingly, this lasted for almost the entire session, so we gave a shout-out to F1's technical support to which 'Matt', from Formula 1.com, responded fairly quickly, telling us that the "concurrency issue is now fixed".

Indeed, as we logged on for qualifying, there was no longer any mention of the problem. But that was perhaps because the screen was dark, void of any feed or data!

F1 TV had apparently gone the same way as Brendon Hartley's Toro Rosso: across the kitty litter and straight into the barriers with dire consequences as the stream was nowhere to be seen. Dead on arrival.

Customer support had mentioned that "a few F1 TV Pro subscribers" had suffered a glitch, but a bit of prowling on Twitter revealed a widespread issue, and a barrage of discourteous messages picking the service apart.

While technical "glitches" were to be expected, we'll admit that we were surprised by the extent of the misfire. After all, Liberty Media's field of expertise is… well, media. And an inability to offer a reliable, quality streaming service from the get-go -- after an extensive period of testing -- for something as high profile and technologically sophisticated as Formula 1 is worrying. Even the day's replays on F1 TV are full of pixelated, freezing moments.

F1's investment in the digital arena has been massive, equal to the challenges at stake. We're confident they'll get it right, but if fans are greeted with another dead or buffering feed on this afternoon's grid, F1 TV may not get a second chance to make a first impression.

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