Television

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!

 

Goofy Pictures and Reddit

During lunch today, I stood up at my desk and looked across from me and I said “Hey Brian, you know what I want to do? Draw Ollie Williams on one of the windows and have him tell us the weather for the day.” Brian laughed.

Brian always laughs at me.

But he said I should do it, and I was on my way. About 10 minutes later, I had a decent drawing of Ollie Williams up on the window, telling us it was cloudy.

Not bad eh?

Well, I went on to post it on Reddit thinking a few people might chuckle and potentially giving me an upvote. Boy, was I ever wrong.

The image above starts with the final count of the Reddit post as of this writing, and it climbed as high as 20th on the front page of r/funny (that I observed). The imgur stats are staggering: 9 hours up, 141,110 views, and 57.6GB of bandwidth!

I’m glad to have you in our office, Ollie, you’ve certainly made my day a lot more interesting!

UPDATE (12/7/2011): Final stats are amazing. 729 upvotes on Reddit, 198,146 views and 81.12GB of bandwidth on imgur. Madness!

Why I Love Teletoon at Night

One of my favourite channels to watch is Teletoon. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of cartoons and that I watch Futurama almost religiously, and Teletoon does a great job of letting me get my Futurama fix on a daily basis.

Recently, Teletoon did a bit of changing with their “Teletoon at Night” program. They added Fearless Fred to their roster, added a bunch of new shows, and are doing their best to promote not-so-well-known cartoons!

I LOVE what they are doing with Teletoon at night. The simple addition of Fred to do some really basic voiceovers and segues between shows is great: he’s personable and he’s witty, and he can even take a boring message about parental discretion and add a bit of good natured humour to it.

It’s difficult for me to explain exactly why I love it all, but I will do my best: Teletoon has managed to create a great atmosphere for not-so-kid-friendly cartoon shows, and they have fun while doing it.

It seems simple enough to do, but it’s a pretty fine line to walk. I hope more people tune into Teletoon at Night and Fred at Night because they are such a treat to watch.

Thanks Teletoon, you make watching cartoons easy!

Finally, legal online streaming – Thank you CTV!

For months and months, I have heard about those wonderful services in the United States that allow you to watch television shows online for free – legally. Sites such as Fancast, FOX on Demand, and Hulu, that restrict their viewers to the United States, leaving those of us residing in Canada in the dark.

Well it is time to rejoice fellow Canucks! We finally have a service that streams television shows online – legally – and for Canadians! I present you: The CTV Video Player.

I recently discovered it while searching for a site that would play the most recent episode of Fringe. Sure, they interrupt the show to play commercials, but they are fairly negligible as they are usually less than 10-15 seconds each. The only problem is that if you’re playing them in full screen, it will take away the full screen mode to play the advertisement, forcing you to go into full screen again.

But who am I to complain? CTV gets online ad revenue, a greater online presence, and I get a way to watch shows I love!

Here is the complete list of shows the CTV Video Player hosts:

1. Canadian Idol 2008
2. Comedy Now!
3. Corner Gas
4. Degrassi: TNG
5. Desperate Housewives
6. ER
7. etalk
8. Flashpoint
9. Fringe
10. Gossip Girl
11. Greek
12. Instant Star
13. Grey’s Anatomy
14. Live The Drama
15. Mad Men
16. Private Practice
17. Robson Arms
18. So You Think You Can Dance Canada
19. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
20. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
21. Two and a Half Men
22. Canada’s Walk of Fame
23. Whistler
24. TMZ

Pretty nifty, eh? Check them out here.