CINCINNATI – Just when the Bengals were playing their best game of the season, many fans – and their TVs - were in the dark.
When Cincinnati Bell’s Fioptics crashed Sunday, it left frustrated users watching a spinning wheel on their TV screens with just the words: “Loading, please wait.”
And wait. And wait. And wait.
"I have all the snacks out, ready to go. All I get was a signal - loading, loading, loading," Gary Bleisch of Liberty Township said.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 Fioptics subscribers got the same message.
Bleisch waited patiently for a half hour, missing the first of Marvin Jones’ four touchdown catches, then tried to reboot the system.
"Same thing: Loading, loading, loading," he said.
When Jermaine Grisham caught a TD pass, giving the Bengals a 14-0 lead over the Jets, Bleisch tried to call Cincinnati Bell for help.
"I tried about every 15 minutes and all I got was a busy signal,” he said.
Other fans had the same idea.
At 4:59 p.m., less than an hour after kickoff, Cincinnati Bell announced on Facebook that they were aware of issues with Fioptics, but because of the call volume, they were experiencing high hold time.
By then, the Bengals were leading by 22 points.
Cincinnati Bell discovered the problem was with something called program guide servers failing to connect with the set top boxes in people's homes, but they didn't know why.
Fans like Bleisch were livid.
"When you try to call, to try to get some kind of customer service, and no one answers the phone, that's frustrating," he said.
At 8:12, four hours after kickoff, the CEO of Cincinnati Bell apologized to customers on Facebook. By then, the Bengals had wrapped up their 49-9 win and Bleisch hadn’t seen a single one of their seven touchdowns.
Too little too late for Bleisch.
"We've had enough," he said.
To make matters worse, service wasn't totally restored until 8 a.m. Monday.
Don’t Waste Your Money
Don’t let another Fioptics, cable or satellite crash ruin your football Sunday.
Don’t Waste Your Money coach John Matarese has a simple solution for Bleisch and other football fans.
It’s a UHF antenna.
You can get one at Best Buy or Radio Shack or even Walmart or Target for $20.
A rooftop version will cost about $80.
A UHF antenna will pick up about 14 local stations, including Channel 9 in HD, Matarese said.