DIRECTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket and Social Media Fumble on Opening Day

I’ve waited over 7 months, through a player lock-out, to watch NFL football. It is like a second Christmas in my house. My husband and I are both fans of teams different than our hometown so we usually do not get a chance to watch an entire game live.

With the announcement a couple of weeks ago that DIRECTV would be offering their NFL Sunday Ticket through PlayStation 3, both my husband and I thought “Perfect!”. We signed up and anxiously awaited opening day. What a disappointment! Not only did it take forever to load, it stalled every minute, and looped in commercials and pre-game commentary right in the middle of plays and eventually stopped working. Obviously there were issues.

I jumped onto Twitter and found the first DIRECTV account, which is mostly about their products, but directs you to the service account for issues:

DIRECTV Main Twitter Account

This is a great approach. They can use this account to promote shows, new products, etc. and not have it weighed down with customer service issues.

I immediately go to the @DIRECTVService account to see if I can get an update to the issue. Unfortunately the great social media strategy on the main account is not carried over to the service account. Here is what I found:

Lots of confusing and contradictory information posted here. Let me take a moment to point out a couple of issues from a social media perspective:

@DIRECTVService feed at start of games

  • No all encompassing tweet— While this is only a snapshot, this account never made a single tweet regarding the problem, it was all directed to individual users.
  • Not repeating the question or issue in tweets — While the above snapshot does not represent this well, most of the tweets (at least 80%) directed to individuals do not repeat the original issue, leaving those reading the timeline confused. Here is a great example of the timeline in a 22 inch monitor during the outage that demonstrates this issue.
  • Confusing/Contradictory information — One tweet indicates a problem with a particular service, another tells a customer where to go for that service that isn’t functioning.

In reading two tweets directed to individuals I do realize there is a problem with the PS3 stream. O.k., great, they are aware, they are working on it. I figure I would hang out and check the status. Unfortunately it was just too painful to watch them answer various individuals, but never give a clear update to all users.

At one point the Twitter account goes dead with no responses to anyone for 30 minutes. Then sporadic answers, but with a lot of dead air in between.

Another problem with this is they are not responding to everyone. And I really can’t tell who they are responding to and not. Some are being told to call, some are being told to send in a direct message. Not sure why some should call while others should work with the Twitter team.

But the more important question, is the social media team in touch with the customer service team? As @DIRECTVService is telling people to call for a credit, or that there should be no issues next weekend, their customers are saying something else:

@DIRECTVService Customer Response

The most baffling is the PlayStation and DIRECTV social media and customer service teams where clearly not communicating. PlayStation re-tweeted from @DIRECTVService to indicate the issue was being worked on and also posted they would be refunding customers:

PlayStation Responds

Unfortunately, @DIRECTVService never re-tweeted PlayStation’s refunding announcement and it wasn’t until 3 hours after it was posted was it mentioned by @DIRECTService:

@DIRECTVService Finally Catches Up with PlayStation Announcement 3 hours Later

You can see here, the PlayStation snapshot shows the tweet was made 4 hours previously and the first acknowledgement from @DIRECTVService was 1 hour previously. In fact 2 hours previously they were still indicating for customers to contact PlayStation.

And for the icing on the cake: DIRECTV never acknowledged on Twitter what the issue was, that it has been fixed for this upcoming weekend (other than saying it “should be”), nor did they apologize for the service outage.

Lesson learned: Have your social media strategy buttoned down and following best practices BEFORE opening day, and most importantly, be prepared for a crisis.

Look for more blog posts about social media best practices over the next couple of weeks.

Comments 1

  1. That would be infuriating! Thats after paying almost $350 for the Sunday ticket to start with, then another $50 to activate the PS3 as a receiver, only to watch as the service went down in flames. I cant believe that Playstation support was more helpful then DTVs. They even stopped responding? I didnt see the point in the app anyway but this makes sure I will never look to DTV for service. I have DISH Network as my TV provider/employer and their apps work flawlessly. The DISH Remote Access app lets me watch ALL of my channels live on any supported device. I can even watch and control my DVR! Its good every day, not just football season Sundays. If I ever have any issues the DISH Twitter or Facebook team are on it, or I can just chat in at the website. If I went through that on opening day, I would seriously consider switching companies.

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