James Espie, Test Specialist

Bug or feature?

Is it a bug? Is it a feature? Is it both?

In my last newsletter, I asked this question:

I went to watch a Manchester United game on Spark Sport, and this happened:

For those of you that don’t love sports - this is the the Manchester City game, not the Manchester United game! Oh no!

At first, I thought they’d just made a mistake. But after investigating a little, I realised what had happened, and found the game I wanted.

Can you see what has gone on here?

A few things that’ll help:

Here’s the game schedule for the day:


Other things that might help - I’m watching at about 7:30am, and a football match lasts about 90 minutes, plus change.

What did I have to do to see my game?

But the more important question - is this a bug, or a feature - and why?

I received two great answers, from two people I respect greatly in the industry. One says it’s a bug, one says it’s working as intended.

Here are their answers:

Answer one - working as intended

The first answer comes from Linda Van Zyl:

As for what went wrong with your Manchester game, I think it was “working as intended”. Taking your start time of 7:30 and going back 2.5 hours (the length of time of your stream so far) takes it to half time on the previous city match.

They probably start the stream early to make sure they catch the pre-amble of the match before it starts. Plus you can catch the end of the game if you are waiting impatiently for Manchester. Or just it’s easier to start stream early??

You had to go forward 1.5 hours to get to start of the Manchester game :)

Had to draw a timeline for that because trying to work it out in my head was impossible! 😄

I like this answer, because Linda’s right, it seems very much like this is intentional!

I’ve used other sports streaming services that either:

It’s conceivable to me that a development team would come up with this “play from beginning” feature, that adds value to the product.

They may not have the time or people power to implement it perfectly, so they come up with a (minimum) viable solution, and do that.

That way this feature is available, and more value comes out of the product straight away. I’ll be charitable and assume that they’re going to improve it in future iterations.

I sympathise with the team building this, streaming is hard!

Answer two - it’s a bug

The second answer comes from Aaron Hodder:

MANCHESTER CITY - FULHAM 4:00am & WEST HAM - MANCHESTER UNITED 6:30am are part of the same “programme”, so that when you chose to watch the broadcast from “the beginning”, it took you to the beginning of the MANCHESTER CITY - FULHAM match as that was the beginning of the broadcast?

If this is what happened , then I would advocate for it being a bug, as in a threat to value.

The behaviour is inconsistent with the claim the title makes. It looks like a “programme” containing a single match with a title and start and end time( “Premier League Matchweek 11: Westham United vs Manchester United” . As opposed to a ‘channel’ “Premier League Matchweek 11” or a programme containing multiple matches: “Premier League MatchWeek 11: Today’s matches”

This is further reinforced with the next match appearing as another standalone “programme”:

It is absolutely no information given to a user that by selecting “Premier League Matchweek 11: West Ham United v Manchester United”, the subsequent stream is going to contain the previous match. The behaviour is inconsistent with the claims the title makes, and inconsistent with the way streaming content usually works with matches being standalone “programmes”.

Observing how the Chelsea v Leeds United stream works (and if you choose to watch from the beginning where will it take you to the beginning of) might give a clue as to whether the bug is intentional or an error. Is there a tile containing the Manchester City v Fulham match? What happens when you go to the “end” of that?

I like this answer, because Aaron’s right, it’s absolutely a threat to the value of the product!

If I hadn’t been persistent enough to dig deeper, and had previous experience with sports streaming apps, it would have been easy to give up on this.

What could the flow on effect be? I could cancel my subscription, or at the very least, complain to their support team that it’s showing the wrong game. If enough people experience the same problem, well, that could be costly!

My guess is it’s been designed this way intentionally, but, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem. I’d love to come up with some simple ideas to make this better!

So what does it all mean

I like that I got two different responses to this - it shows that software problems are hard, and what is/isn’t a bug can be a grey area.

In my opinion, we have something here that is both by design and a bug. Your opinion might be different though!

The point of it all is, I still got to watch the game, and Man United won 3-1. Nice!

Thanks Linda and Aaron for your great responses, and thanks everyone for reading!

Answers reprinted with permission