Canada

The CTV Olympics App and AirPlay Mirroring

If you’re like me, you want to watch very specific sports and events at the Olympics, and what they play on the television channels isn’t always what you want to watch.

Well thank goodness CTV made an app for that, called CTV Olympics London 2012. You can watch any event that is currently playing, and I was thrilled. I immediately went to the men’s basketball game that was going on (USA vs France) and the video loaded up and started playing.

CTV Olympics London 2012

Awesome.

Then I tapped the video to AirPlay it onto my Apple TV so I could enjoy it on a larger screen while I went about my day.

Oh, what’s that? CTV built a custom video player UI that blocks any sort of volume control and AirPlay options? Trying to force AirPlay (via the iPad task bar controller) doesn’t work?

CTV Olympics London 2012 Video Player

Well that’s not nice.

Thankfully, there’s a way around that.

CTV Olympics London 2012 iPad AirPlay Mirroring

  1. Double tap the Home button on your iPad to bring up the task bar.
  2. Swipe left on the task bar until you get to the controls section.
  3. Tap the AirPlay button, and put it on your Apple TV or AirPlay-enabled devices.
  4. Turn ‘Mirroring’ on.

And ta-da, the 2012 Olympics are now playing on my TV!

Remember CTV, restricting my ability to improve my experience with your apps is not a great way to go about doing business. People will rebroadcast your streams regardless of having access to AirPlay, the only people you are making it harder for are legit viewers like myself. Don’t think I didn’t catch the fact that you let an ad play over AirPlay before causing an error.

Be nice to your viewers, content holders.

UPDATE: It appears that you also cannot scan through a video replay of an event. Attempting to scan through the video causes it to start from the beginning. Don’t cripple our experiences, CTV.

Canadian Streaming TV Apps: Report Cards!

Television watchers in Canada usually get the short end of the stick when it comes to watching shows, on-demand, online. If we aren’t being restricted because we don’t live on American soil, then we’re being restricted for not having a specific type of account.

To give you an idea of what we’re dealing with, I spent a bit of time with four of the only streaming TV apps that work well for *any* Canadian who has an iOS device or a computer. In addition, I’ve tested out how each of the apps handles AirPlay and what happens to the quality of the video upon doing so; a useful metric for those of us who own an Apple TV.

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!

 



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I visualized the data into a “report card” of sorts to give you a side-by-side comparison of features and offerings. Here’s how to read the report cards:

Canadian Streaming TV App Report Card Reading Instructions

  1. App Info
    The name of the app and who it is published by. This is also an indicator of which of the major media companies in Canada happens to own this channel and app.
  2. Device Availability
    From left to right: iPhone, iPad, Web, and Airplay. Certain apps are only available on certain platforms. If it is not available, that given platform will be greyed out, such as AirPlay in this instance.
  3. Measurement Minimum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the minimum number for the measurement. For both instances, it will be zero.
  4. Measurement Maximum
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the maximum number for the measurement. This is determined by the highest number I encounter while measuring.
  5. Measurement Average
    For the given section, in this case the “Number of Shows,” this is the average number measured across the board.
  6. Video Quality Indicator
    For a given device, I took a look at the video quality available for a user across multiple shows and made my judgment. This is rather subjective, but if it is passable quality (not full of artifacts and jaggies) then it is given a checkmark. An ‘X’ will only be given if it is not available in the first place, and/or it is of very poor quality.
    NOTE: Quality, for most of these apps, was great on iOS devices and so-so on the web at full screen.
  7. Advertisement Usage
    An indicator of when and where advertisements show up, in relation to watching a television episode. Some apps, such as the CTV app, will actually interrupt you as you are using the app and looking for a show to watch.

General Comments

While using these apps, it became increasingly apparent that “on-demand” was a term that could only be loosely used by these apps. There seems to be a general trend, with web content from large media companies, where they will only store a handful of the most recent episodes (if that) and the rest are nowhere to be found. In fact, CTV had the highest show count of the four apps, but had the lowest “average number of episodes available” count because they just had so many shows that had zero video content.

In addition, there can be some misleading content in these apps. For example, I don’t believe a collection of your season finale episodes count as a “show,” CBC. And 245 videos labeled “Season X, Episode Y,” but are actually just 2 minute clips, do not count as episodes, CTV. Not to mention, certain platforms do not show all content actually available; CBC had a handful of shows only available on their website but not on the CBC TV app.

With “on-demand” apps like this, it would be a great way to reduce piracy of your shows while receiving some advertising revenue. However, you are forcing consumers to either purchase DVDs (which I assume is the reason to not put full catalogues online) or to pirate shows. I would suggest a re-evaluation of how content is provided to consumers, because you are only making it more difficult for us.

Additional Notes

As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, I only spent time with these four apps. For the sake of full disclosure, you should know that there should have been a fourth: Rogers Anyplace TV. There were two reasons, on my part, to exclude a valid television streaming service: 1) you need a working Rogers account to access the site, which not all Canadians have. 2) even if you have a Rogers account, the tablet app is restricted from you if you are on a monthly plan.

Rogers Anyplace TV

That made no sense, so they were not included.

In addition, I do not hold any of the copyrights for the app icons used in the report card, they are owned by their respective media companies.

You can also find the data I collected here. It contains all of the shows that can be found in the apps themselves, along with episode numbers, and any notes I may have made along the way.

I am happy to answer any questions that might come up, as well as add analyses of any apps that I may have missed.

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: If you want to see the combined report cards, go directly to the Canadian TV Streaming App Report Card page!

 

Translation of the Letter Rogers Sent Me

Received a letter from Rogers today, announcing yet another price increase for internet and cable TV. They started off with marketing garbage about how awesome they’ve made my service (but actually mean nothing) and threw this in there:

However, over the past year, there has been an increase in the cost of providing you with our services as we continue to expand and upgrade our network and launch enhancements to serve you better. We have taken steps to minimize the impact that these increased costs will have on you. Remember, if you choose to subscribe to more than one service, you may be eligible for a discount.

I’ve gone ahead and translated it into Real Talkā„¢:

In the past year, the greed of our executives and shareholders has increased while our services have stagnated. We like to pretend that we’re doing you a favour by only increasing it by a little bit, but in reality, we don’t give a damn. However, if you decide to throw more money at us, we’d be happy to shave off another dollar! We’ll get it back at the next price increase anyway.

Thanks Rogers, for being the corporate parasite of Canada.

The Comedians That Canada Deserves

This is “A Very Office Christmas”, made by Katie Uhlmann and Claire Stollery, also known as Real Professional. Take a look, let me know what you think.

Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the video. It’s a great little story, and it’s clever, but I guess I expected to laugh a lot more than I actually did. That is fine, not everything tickles everyone the same way, and I hope Katie (who sent me this video!) wasn’t offended by the fact that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it.

However, I would like to point out one thing: they are a breath of fresh air for comedy in Canada.

Since the (good) days of Royal Canadian Air Farce or This Hour Has 22 Minutes, I have seen plenty of Canadian comedy shows show up on The Comedy Network, and they have all been disappointing. They would take the awesome sketch comedy formula that made the aforementioned shows so successful and tried to replicate it, except they wouldn’t be as smart, they wouldn’t be as intelligent, and they absolutely blew when it came to comedic timing.

It was like watching a really bad, half-hour commercial for a shoddy product. Without Billy Mays.

What I really like about Real Professional is that they’ve made a really great comedy short: it’s beautifully produced, it’s got just the right amount of cheesiness in it, and the actors and actresses don’t make me want to immediately claw my eyes and ears out. That said, the acting does fall short in a few places and the overall idea for this short just doesn’t do it for me, but there is definitely plenty of potential and I appreciate that.

I’m really looking forward to more videos from Katie and Claire over at Real Professional. I am hoping that this is a direction that many more comedians take when creating their content, it is an absolute breath of fresh air.

Cheers, ladies!