Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dutch treat: RTL XL's major FAIL

Recently RTL (a Dutch commercial television network) relaunched their website, moving entirely from classical Windows media to Microsoft Silverlight. On this site, you can not only play clips, but also watch their news reports and various other selections of their programs. Very handy and consequently quite popular. More so because with Firefox and a few additions you could watch it on almost every platform - or even every browser.

Silverlight, on the contrary, poses many problems. Few Linux users are able to play anything at all, even after installing the patent-infested Moonlight plugin. But also Windows users are experiencing problems, especially with Firefox and Chrome. The only combination that seems to work reasonably is Internet Explorer 8 with Silverlight 4.0. RTL has acknowledged this, but for the time being, there is no fix in sight.

Since the use of Internet Explorer has fallen below to the 50% mark, they should experience a drop in the number of visitors. That should explain why they are advertising that much. Yes, RTL, I'd love to visit, but don't limit yourself to IE8/SL4 users. They are slowly becoming a minority.

But your troubles are not over. Microsoft's strategy is changing. They are quickly moving from Silverlight to HTML5. So all that money you invested in a top notch website is simply wasted!

Following the "market leader" is not a safe choice anymore, deal with it, you dummy RTL CIO's. Do your own research and look where the market is going. One thing is for sure, it is not going to be Microsoft. Microsoft is already a niche platform where tablets, cell phones and MP3 players are concerned. Microsoft was never a real player on the web. Apache rules and that is the way it has always been.

Microsoft is in trouble. The man that should have given it a new direction has left. The CEO sells 2 billion in stock (remember WorldOnline?). Getting the message? A company in trouble is going to make strange moves. And making your whole technology strategy dependent on it is not a safe bet.

Update: I just found the "dummy" in question: Arno Otto, Managing Director Digital Media of RTL Nederland.

Update: From the RTL XL FAQ:
Dear viewer, at this moment we're experiencing some problems with RTL XL, which is not compatible with Google Chrome at the time being. There are problems with the Silverlight plugin. We do our best to fix this error as soon as possible. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Update: I've found a way to watch "RTL Gemist" without installing Moonlight. You can get instructions here (Dutch).

Update: Confirmed: "Due to a technical problem there are temporarily no statistics collected from the RTL streams". If there is a problem that's bad enough, but maybe RTL doesn't want to be bothered with statistics right now. Go figure, if there is a sharp drop in the number of visitors that means their expensive project has failed miserably. Admitting that in the boardroom is hard enough, try admitting that in public..

Update: Another indication that I'm on to something. What does Google suggest when you're searching for RTL XL?

Which translates to "RTL XL doesn't work".

Update: RTL XL now sells a dedicated iPad application for only 79 eurocents. That's not very expensive. But what do the customers think?
I relied on all the rave reviews but it is a setback with a vengeance. Probably the entire RTL editors left a positive review. E.g. a huge picture with just three lines of text, stating: "Click here to view video". You can click all you want, but no video pops up. It seems that the application is still in testing. The live stream is of a very low quality. All in all a waste of money, even for 79 cents. There are plenty of better alternatives to see the news.

It seems my fellow countryman is wrong: it may take some time before my workaround is defeated.


Anonymous said...

A topic which has my personal interest, especially since the public broadcast service is also using Silverlight more and more.

However, given past political developments, as far as I know they should use open source / open standards or explain.

Probably, in the case of public broadcast service, they can explain the choice of SilverLight because of the content owners wanting some kinf of Restriction Management.

However, all programs which were made by the NL public broadcast companies themselves - payed by taxpayers like me - is also 'behind Silverlight', and therefore not viewable by people like me.

Recently, the public broadcast service also made available a player for iPhone/Pad, which doesn't rely on Flash / SilverLight.

Then why can't they do this for _everybody_?

Moreover, why don't they cooperate? BBC, ARD/ZDF, één/Canvas, they all face the same problems. I heard the iPlayer of the BBC isn't that good as well, but at least they're trying! The BBC was also working on Dirac. Then why don't NPO, ARD/ZDF et. all. join them?

And more important: At which government disk can we file a complaint?

ercolinux said...

We have the same problem here in Italy: the public television (RAI) has moved all the broadcasts to Silverlight with poor results. Linux and Mac users cannot see the broadcasts well but even Microsoft users suffers the same fate.

Anonymous said...

Firefox 4 with Silverlight works flawlessly overhere. However they should've just switched to flash and then in the future maybe support an HTML5 viewer.