I sat down last night to watch a programme on ITV’s catch-up service, using the Silverlight-based ITV Player. It was watchable, but not too good. Now and again the stream would pause for buffering, and I saw the Silverlight busy icon for a while. Quality is also an issue. Sometimes it is great; sometimes it is horribly pixelated.
I took a look at the ITV forums. It seems to be a common problem. The Best of ITV section is dominated by complaints. Some are from an aggrieved minority running Linux or PowerPC Macs; but there are plenty of others. My experience is relatively good; other issues include broadcasts that only play the ads; or codec issues; or streams failing completely half way through a programme. Here’s a sample:
Believe me guys even if you had Windows OS the player still wouldn’t work its completely rubbish; 6 times i’ve tried to watch Britains Got Talent and it either vanishes, or skips etc.
Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish! BBC iPlayer is excellent compared to this, i’m quite disappointed!
Readers of this blog will know that I have nothing against Silverlight, though my interest is more in the application development side than video streaming. Still, the impact of one on the other should not be discounted. You can guess what the pundits in the ITV forum are calling for. It’s Adobe Flash, because they have seen it working well for the BBC and elsewhere.
Now transition to the development team as they put forward the question of whether to use Flash or Silverlight for their upcoming RIA (Rich Internet Application) project. If the exec responsible struggled to watch ITV player the night before, thanks as far as she can tell to the Silverlight plug-in, that becomes a factor in the outcome.
I understand why people blame Silverlight for these problems; but I realise that this may be wrong, cross-platform issues aside. Maybe ITV has inadequate servers; or there is some other technical issue, and Silverlight is innocent.
If you know the answer to this, please let me know or comment below.
Microsoft must realise, though, that this is the most visible use of Silverlight for many UK folk. Some may also remember how BBC iPlayer transformed its reputation when it moved from using primarily Microsoft technology – though not Silverlight, and made worse by poor peer-to-peer client software – to Adobe’s Flash platform. I suggest that Redmond’s finest give it some attention; though who knows, it may be too late.