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Why Sunday's Bills game won't be on Rochester TV (and how to stream it)

I’m not as smart as my smart TV.

My editor led me to this conclusion after Tuesday’s blog.

In it, I noted that while the Buffalo Bills game with the Jacksonville Jaguars at 9:30 a.m. Sunday from London, England will be carried on the local CBS affiliate in Buffalo, Channel 4, Rochester fans won’t be so fortunate.

The game being called by play-by-play man Kevin Harlan and analyst Rich Gannon isn’t on the CBS affiliate in Rochester or any other CBS affiliate in the country besides those in Buffalo and Jacksonville.

It is just being streamed nationwide and worldwide on Yahoo in an experiment aimed at determining the global popularity of the National Football League.

I tried to soothe the pain of our Western New York neighbors to the east Tuesday by noting that many Bills fans in Rochester with the right smart TVs won’t want to shout expletives because catching the game on Yahoo will be about as easy for them as it would be to watch it on a CBS affiliate or watch a program on Netflix.

My editor, who apparently is much more concerned about Rochester viewers than I am, replied: “What about those people in a certain demographic who don’t have the right smart TVs and can't figure out how to watch the webcast of the game?” Translation: I think he was talking about an older demographic. My experience is many people in the demo have become technology literate. But, of course, there are many people in the demo who haven't.

The editor’s question inspired me to consider alternatives for the people who wouldn’t know the difference between Yahoo, the website, and Yoo-hoo, the soft drink made famous by the late Yogi Berra.

It is a teachable moment for the technologically-impaired viewers to the east of Buffalo who haven’t learned how to stream programs via Netflix, Hulu or some other website.

If the Bills-Jacksonville game forces them to learn how to stream shows, they will be exposed to a whole new world of entertainment.

It could be game-changing. And life-changing.

Before I give Rochester viewers and out-of-town Bills fans across the country alternative ways to learn how to stream programs on TV, phones, game consoles or computers, here are a couple of things to note. You will need an internet connection and you’ll need to make sure it has the speed to stream live events like football games.

One more thing: If you live in Rochester, blame the Bills for your heartache.

Team officials could have saved Rochester fans a lot of headaches if they had protected them as well or better than the Bills offensive line protects quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel. Since the team trains in a Rochester suburb and has a good percentage of fans from that WNY area, you might have thought officials would have demanded both the Buffalo and Rochester TV markets be able to carry the game on CBS affiliates.

Of course, the NFL doesn’t like demands. And maybe the Bills did make that request and the NFL couldn’t get Yahoo to go for it in negotiations.

But Yahoo, which reportedly has a billion users worldwide, shouldn’t have worried that much about losing either market or Jacksonville. Buffalo is the No. 53 TV market in the country, Rochester is No. 76. Jacksonville is No 47. The population of those cities is a fraction of the billion potential viewers.

In an email response this afternoon, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy explained why the CBS affiliate in Rochester isn't getting the game.

"Sunday's game is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for the NFL," McCarthy wrote. "This game is being distributed based on the model we have for NFL games that are distributed on cable where the game is available over the air in the primary local market. This is a model we have used consistently for about 30 years. As we evaluate this first OTT game, we will look at the experience of our fans in all markets in determining if we distribute additional future games in this manner."

Now to the alternatives for those who aren’t technologically savvy enough to stream the games:

Have Your Children Come to the House: Most children are smarter than their parents when it comes to technology. They are likely able to set up computers to stream for free or just the cost of a good meal. If your children can’t do it, ask your grandchildren. If you don’t have children or grandchildren, borrow a child from a neighbor or a friend.

Call Your Children: If your kids or grandkids live outside the area, it is time for that weekly telephone call to catch up on what is happening in their lives and complain about how the Bills are a disappointment again. Your children or grandkids might be able to walk you through how to stream programs on the phone.

Help the Economy: Get an early start on the holiday season. Treat yourself. Buy a new smart TV that has the Yahoo apps. I'm told if the TVs don't have the Yahoo apps, streaming on them is doable but a bit more complicated and some extra equipment is needed. Smart TVs have significantly gone down in price. And if you have an old set that isn’t in high definition, you will be amazed by the clarity of the picture and will enjoy Bills games much better for the rest of the season even if their play doesn’t improve.

Go to a Rochester-Area Bar: I’m sure many of them will have streaming capabilities to draw customers. The way the Bills have been playing at times, it also is a good idea to be at a drinking establishment during the game anyway as long as you don’t get over-served. (After it becomes legal to serve alcoholic beverages at noon, of course.)

Visit Buffalo: If you’re a Bills season ticket-holder from Rochester, you might only go to Orchard Park since that is where Ralph Wilson Stadium is located. This is a good time to see all the excitement about what is happening in the city of Buffalo. It might be more fun to watch the game from a bar here – especially “716” – than in any bar in the Rochester area.

Go to a Mall on Saturday: They might have an Apple or Microsoft store with workers who can guide you through the streaming process. Or there might be a similar store near where you live. At the same time you get streaming lessons, you can get tips on how to use all the apps you get on your cell phones.

Listen to the Game on Radio: Now that the TV blackout rule has been suspended in a one-year experiment and all this season’s Bills games are on television, Bills radio play-by-play man John Murphy and analyst Mark Kelso might feel like they are talking to themselves during the games. Take a Sunday off from TV and listen to them call the game while you rake leaves or clean the garage. It might be less frustrating than watching the game.

Read a Book: Better yet, take Sunday off entirely. The Bills defense did it last. This really is as much a no-win game as it is a must-win game. If the Bills win, it is expected. If the Bills lose the streamed game, their fans will be steamed. If the Bills lose, Rochester residents who don’t know how to stream should consider themselves lucky for missing the game.



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