BBC iPlayer beta firewall issues

I was disappointed when my first efforts to use the BBC’s streaming iPlayer beta failed. Whatever content I chose, I got the message: This content isn’t available at the moment.

Right-clicking the player lets you copy a further error message, which says:

Title: akamai:AkamaiServiceError.AKAMAI_API
Description: Connection attempt failed
Code: 18

At first I blamed beta unreliability; then when it continued I wondered if it could be a firewall issue. I use Microsoft’s ISA Server. I looked at the log, and noticed that traffic on port 1935 was being blocked. I added a new protocol which I called iPlayer, for outbound TCP traffic on port 1935. I added this to the web access rule in ISA Server. Now it works.

It’s a great service. The quality is fine. For some reason I care deeply about audio quality when listening to music, but when it comes to most video content, I mind much less.

Note: I don’t know if this is the only firewall issue with iPlayer, or if the port may change in future. Others have fixed similar issues just by clearing cookies or their browser cache. All I can say is that this fixed the problem for me.

I also think that the BBC’s player could display a more helpful error message; and I’d like to see technical information on what the requirements are. I couldn’t find anything useful here.

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15 comments to BBC iPlayer beta firewall issues

  • Hi Tim – you shouldn’t need to open up 1935 (the player should try this port but drop back to port 80 if this isn’t open) – we’ll look into why this didn’t happen here.

    We’ll be adding a diagnostic page soon to help with these kinds of issues, as well as updating the error messaging and documentation – thanks for your comments.

    Andy

  • tim

    Thanks Andy. Odd that drop back to port 80 didn’t work here.

    Tim

  • Flérôme Jipo

    Hi,
    I get the same message but the error is different:
    “Title: MediaSelector:MediaSelectorError.NOT_AVAILABLE
    Description: The Content requested is not available.
    Code: 1″

    I’m trying the player from France and I tested many videos (old and news). I always get the same message.

    I use Firefox 3 with XP, and I have a recent Windows Media Player version (I really hope you don’t require the ****y Real Player). I face absolutely no such error in the many other video sites I visit.

    Thanks for helping!

  • Jonathan

    I get exactly the same error (Title: akamai:AkamaiServiceError.AKAMAI_API
    Description: Connection attempt failed
    Code: 18) on all the videos in the news section of the site. Using Firefox 3 on XP, behind a company ISA firewall.
    The videos in the /iplayer section of the site work fine, it’s just the embedded videos in the news.bbc.co.uk section that don’t work. They haven’t worked for a few weeks that I’ve noticed. Hopefully now the BBC are aware of the problem it’ll be fixed soon, especially as the BBC are using more and more videos in their news site!

  • Rob

    Tried all of the above, still get the same error message “this content isn’t available at the moment”. Running out of ideas. Interestingly, got a similar error youtube af few days ago, but it’s working properly now.

  • Ditto here:

    Title: akamai:AkamaiServiceError.AKAMAI_API
    Description: Connection attempt failed
    Code: 18

    I am not blocking port 1935 either…

  • tim

    @Ian

    Are you able to check your firewall logs for clues?

    That’s what helped me.

    Tim

  • lacakid

    Well I’m guessing because you have to be in the UK to actually watch the shows so I am told I cannot view Dr Who but the guy who gave me the site said you have to be in the UK, is this true???

    I am in Los Angeles and same message as you guys

    Tome

  • tim

    @lacakid

    It’s true you have to be in the UK. However:

    I am in Los Angeles and same message as you guys

    not all of us get the same error. Do you get error 18 or error 1 or another error?

    Tim

  • tony

    Have been getting the same message on my Wii at the moment, worked fine till i tried Dr Who on Saturday, and I am hunting for solutions. Any suggestions? Many other people I know with Wii’s are having this problem?

    Any suggestions greatly received.

    tony

  • Neil

    This used to work fine, but now, with the new version I get the same error (code 1). I hope this gets fixed soon, I missed Graeme Norton last weekend!!!

  • Hi All,

    I see that Andy from the BBC has been involved in this thread previously. Would it be possible to publish here an explanation of how iPlayer behaves when the connection is being initiated?

    Would, for example, the player fail if you proxy via port 8080 rather than 80? Does it use Windows Media Player Libraries or is it a truly self-contained player? Where is the content actually delivered from?

    We are having real difficulties with this and yet it used to work fine. We now have lots of disgruntled users at my company who need to listen to the latest news on a regular basis and I’ve not been able to provide a fix yet.

    Many thanks,

    Richard

  • tim

    @Richard

    I’ve forwarded your question.

    Tim

  • Tony

    with a proxy server set in IE (we use MS ISA), opening TCP 1935 or 80 on the Internet firewalls (Cisco ASA’s) worked for me.

    We prefer to open 1935 for iplayer and keep 80 locked down so everyone has to use the proxy server to access the web.

  • Although Cisco ASA by default opens dynamic ports for some known players (real audio etc) unfortunately for iplayer you need to staticaly open port tcp 1935. The post HERE shows more details about multimedia issues through a firewall.