Sling TV, Dish Network's pioneering Web TV service, choked at the buzzer as basketball fans tuned in en masse over the weekend and were unable to enjoy NCAA March Madness because of streaming issues. The company said the error messages were caused by “extreme sign-ups and streaming,” though that's unlikely to be much comfort to fans who missed two of the most anticipated games of the basketball tournament.

Complaints began flooding social media during the Duke vs. Michigan State semifinal game Friday night and lasting through the Wisconsin vs. Kentucky game nail-biter. Users were furious that Sling, which provides a package of pay TV channels on the Web for $20 a month, was surprised that so many people would be watching one of the most popular sporting events of the year.

 

 

 

 

“We're sorry some basketball fans saw errors due to extreme sign-ups and streaming,” the Sling Answers Twitter account said. “Engineers rebalanced loads across network partners.”

This is the first major test of Sling TV, which launched in February with a bundle of 17 cable channels delivered over the Web. The $20 service is intended for light TV users who don't want to subscribe to a full $70 cable package.

Dish, which owns Sling, hasn't disclosed how many subscribers the TV service has attracted since its launch. But the streaming issue is hardly unique to Sling, with ABC struggling to meet streaming demand for the Oscars, ESPN unable to meet the streaming demand for the World Cup and HBO Go infamously dropping out during an episode of “Game of Thrones.”