How To

Getting ready for the Superb Owl party (prepping)

Almost every year there’s been a tradition in this house of a get-together with mostly non-sports fans to watch a whole bunch of new commercials and a halftime show that sudden music history scholars (and probably racists,) everywhere will be talking about for weeks. For us, the game itself doesn’t particularly matter, we watch for the commercials. The invite state that if you’re actually an American football fan, this might not be your party as we’ll probably unintentionally annoy you during plays. Everyone is required to shut up for the commercials.

We’re not anti-sports here, just for us this is a party to watch commercials, a halftime show, and catch up with friends.

Before Colbert, there was ORLY? and the Superb Owl.

This should be read as a planning for failure piece, not that we would particularly care if the game went off. Also we have not invested a dime in Superb Owl party disaster prevention. This is simply a “make a plan, know your options, figure out the holes, here’s what mine were and are. Maybe you can be a party hero?” Also that making a plan for silly stuff like this you’ll find you can pivot it later on.

At my house it’s been called the Superb Owl Commercial Watching party since at least a couple of years before Stephen Colbert started his Superb Owl coverage. In the past the main TV had the game/commercials, and a laptop was set up streaming The Puppy Bowl. A few years back we added the Kitten Bowl, which looks like will be on a different network with a different name this year.

Every year has had its challenges. Here are some of the ones we’ve faced in the past.

Streaming channel / internet dies

A few years ago the channel I was watching on just stopped working. It was the early days of a streaming service so I’m not going to harp on them too much, but the sheer bandwidth demands of the game was evidently more than they could handle.

Luckily my TV had the ability to do over-the-air and my neighbor loaned me an antenna.

Similarly a year prior to that we lost internet earlier in the morning and had to have a cell phone hotspot backup.

Back in the Comcast days lost connection for several minutes and attempted to switch to antenna but ended up going with a streaming service.

Power outage

Something to note about most modern TVs is they do not take a whole lot of power. I have my TV and internet on a UPS primarily because I want them protected from power fails and getting zapped, but a standard UPS can run a very large LED TV for quite a bit.

We had a power outage in the lead-up to the game a couple of years back – it was back on within 30 minutes of the game. TV never lost power, although I did turn it off. Only thing messed with was the crock pot. You can’t UPS a crock pot.

Everyone’s phone dies

Don’t know how this is a thing, but get 10 people at a house and 4 of them their phones are dying. Charge up some portable chargers.

I’d be interested to know if there’s some sort of Superb Owl effect where phones drain faster… like proximity causing towers to have to repeat and request check-ins repeatedly or something, or if I’m just noticing it because people are at my house and know I have power.

Ride shares are overwhelmed

Seems like it’s quite a wait after the new commercials end for people to be able to get a ride home. Plan a little after-commercials entertainment or steal a car.

But mostly it’s the tech problems getting the game

It sounds silly to prep for this, but check and make sure if this is important to you that you have the ability to mitigate problems. Can your TV easily connect to your phone’s hotspot? Is there an antenna and does it work? If your power went out do you have a UPS, or an inverter and an extension cord you can run from a car? (really, modern TV power requirements are very low,) and when your streaming service fails do you have a fallback plan considering several thousand people may be in the same boat and attempting to get a free week trial on another streaming service?

Is your TV on Wi-Fi that’s crappy and going to fail when three of your friends come and get on the network?

My fallbacks this year

I’ve got a quad of projectors this year, three of which can take any streamed source but none of which can connect to an antenna. All of which can connect to Bluetooth speakers and be heard. Kitten Bowl (Great American Rescue Bowl now?) and Puppy Bowl will be on these this year assuming the streams work. Two charged jumper batteries, two charged power stations. Think we’re good for power.

I’ve got the standard TV Vizio / soundbar setup with antenna fallback in case streaming provider fails. Plex DVR OTA fallback at a different location in case Streaming service fails and antenna sucks.

Eh, ought to be interesting. I’ve got not fallbacks for the Puppy & Kitten bowl.

In conclusion

I’ve got a plan made here that can be adapted to multiple scenarios that matter a whole lot more than watching commercials or a football game. Like really, if the TV goes out and the puppy bowl fails, it doesn’t matter. But if I’ve got neighbors at my house after a wind storm and their power is out, I just adapt this bit of silliness to keep them watching the Weather Channel and connected to the world.

Plan for failure, be happy when it doesn’t come, adapt those plans when it does.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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