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TNT doesn't like Mac users

I was sitting on the couch the other day and relaxing when my wife yelled to me from the other room:

David! My Mac's not working!

I love those highly specific descriptions of a problem. I asked for a little more clarity.

I'm trying to watch a video and it's not working!

I dragged myself off the couch and over to my wife's MacBook. She was on the TNT site and trying to watch an episode of Raising the Bar. She would click on "watch a full episode" and a blank screen would appear where the viewer normally would be.

It was not immediately apparent what the problem was. A poorly installed codec? A broken web page? I rummaged around for a little while and found that the TNT support site stated that they didn't support Macs for viewing their shows. Why? Here's what the support site says:

TNT.tv would like to apologize for not being able to accommodate Mac users.

The issue is related to the Windows Media Player, specifically video with Digital Rights Management (DRM). This is because the WMP for the Mac is not supported directly by Microsoft . Our agreement with the studios that produce the shows stipulates that their content be protected (full episodes) from piracy with DRM software.

Additionally, WMP is more universal than other platforms like QuickTime and Flash Video for distributing protected content.
What they should have said was "We're really sorry that we didn't put a little Javascript up front to detect a Mac and indicate to you that we don't support your platform. No, we'd rather that you waste your time trying to figure out what the problem is first, then search through our support site to learn this little gem."

I also love the statement that WMP is more universal than other platforms "like QuickTime and Flash". WMP is more universal than Flash Video?!? Um, no, it's not. According to Stat Owl, Flash content reaches 94.66% of internet viewers and Windows Media Player has a 73.9% market share (June '09 stats).

That leaves over 21% of the population that can watch Flash based video unable to view TNT's content. That's over 65 million people in North America. Apparently TNT is all full up on market share and doesn't need access to that demographic.

I didn't share all of this with my wife of course. I simply told her that she couldn't watch any TNT shows because their web site was broken. Sure, I could have loaded up Windows in a VM, fired up Internet Explorer and watched the video or maybe even found some solution to this little problem from a technical standpoint. In the end though I'd rather just mark TNT as a fail, write a rant about it and tell my wife to find something else to watch.

24 comments:

Ast A. Moore said...

In the end though I'd rather just mark TNT as a fail, write a rant about it and tell my wife to find something else to watch.

Right on, brother!

Keleko said...

Netflix used to use the same streaming technology. However, they recognized they wanted to support Mac users, too, and so they switched to Silverlight. While it is a Microsoft technology still, at least it works just fine on a Mac. Maybe TNT will get a clue or stop being lazy and do the same thing.

David Alison said...

I would be fine with the TNT site requiring Silverlight. Not my personal technology choice but at least Macs would have an option. Still blows me away that companies obsess so much about DRM that they will carve out a huge chunk of the market just to protect it.

Matt said...

I would bet that TNT has a 'computer department' with a no-Macs-allowed policy, and computer illiterates at the executive level. 'Operating system agnostic' is a very simple idea, but it's an idea, and an idea won't exist in any given organization unless there's a brain somewhere for it to reside in.

taupecat said...

I've run into the same issue with my own company, also a well-known cable channel. And as I'm a Mac-based web developer who was responsible for the project, you can imagine the fun I had testing a product that our digital-rights policy dictated I couldn't see!

Next time she has this problem, just point her to Hulu instead.

qka said...

Uh, folks, Silverlight is an Intel only technology. So it only supports new Macs; lots of us still have PowerPC Macs that are still going strong. Curse you, Appple, for making such quality products!

TNT isn't the only site that doesn't support Macs. Many of the news channel sites don't work either. And don't get me started on all the sites that improperly encapsulate their Flash video. As initially presented, the video doesn't work, but dig into the page source and find the actual Flash file, and that works fine.

xcapepr said...

David, just to try it out, install the user agent addon for Firefox and switch the current user agent so the site thinks its a Windows PC and not a Mac.

Silverlight is available for the Mac and WMA, WMV playback is supported by Quicktime in the Mac using Perian and Flip4Mac.

David Alison said...

@xcapepr: I did a modest amount of research into this and found that you get the message that the TNT material is protected, and Flip4Mac doesn't play protected material. I refuse to go through hoops just to watch TNT's stuff - they've already lost me.

kermit said...

install the user agent addon for Firefox and switch the current user agent so the site thinks its a Windows PC

Better yet just select this from your developer menu in Safari

Anonymous said...

6 weeks without an update and we get this? Sheesh..

just breaking chops.. keep it up :)

Hello said...

David, you are so funny. Picture it: David Alison, the computer guru of the house. There in the corner sits his wife and as smart as she is she's not a computer guru so hollers to hubby to help her with the broken Mac. After putzing around a bit, David realises it's the website and not the Mac. Instead of telling the wife what's going on (probably because she wouldn't understand anyway) he just says the website is broken. Wife believes him and goes to hulu.com.

I just cracked up reading how responded to your wife. I'm sure many husbands do that too to their wives. :)

Mister Ron said...

"I keep telling people all day long -- we don't support your Macs because nobody uses them!"

Dylan said...

I refuse to go through hoops just to watch TNT's stuff - they've already lost me.

Exactly my thoughts. If they aren't going to put in the effort to make it easy for me, I'm not going to patronize them. If the TNT cable channel suddenly started saying they didn't support a certain brand of TV ("sorry, you can't watch our protected content on a Panasonic television") would you still want to watch their shows?

Anonymous said...

What I think is interesting is TNT apparantly didn't get the memo where Macs now have 91% market share for "premium computers" (read:over $1000). This means the most affluent and well-informed customers are now completely out of TNT's marketing reach.

Smart move.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that worked for you, my iwfe isn't always so easily dissuaded. I agree however, that using protected WMV these days is silly.

Laura said...

Hello sez:
"I just cracked up reading how responded to your wife. I'm sure many husbands do that too to their wives. :)"

Laura sez:
Huh. I do that to my husband, routinely. "Step away from my Mac. I'll let you know when you may use it again."

Partners in Grime said...

@Matt
"I would bet that TNT has a 'computer department' with a no-Macs-allowed policy, and computer illiterates at the executive level."

I'd say Matt nailed it. I currently work at a 'company' that doesn't allow Macs. The 'computer department' and upper management haven't a clue about Macs.

So sad.

ps Posted from my Mac. :)

Tom said...

Absolutely love the blog, David! Have read all the way trough it in 2 days. (Got my first mac for two weeks now) :) Keep it up!

Greetings from Belgium.

Anonymous said...

I did that too when I first started thinking about switching. I went back to the beginning and read the entries backwards like an e-book.

Ty Cox said...

For crying out loud, she could be watching the show via iTunes and Apple TV in a comfortable chair. It's worth the $2.99 to keep 'em quiet.

Anonymous said...

TBS' web-site is the same way where Mac computers cannot access their videos.

DeViLbOi said...

What I think is interesting is TNT apparantly didn't get the memo where Macs now have 91% market share for "premium computers" (read:over $1000). This means the most affluent and well-informed customers are now completely out of TNT's marketing reach.

Smart move.


ROFLMAO! Yes...because people waste more money on a computer they are more affluent and well-informed. The only reason why Apple has cornered the "premium computer" market is because they are the only computers up in that price range these days.

Anonymous said...

It is policies like these that send people to torrent/rapidshare/streaming piracy sites to watch the same shows, without commercials, on the platform of their choosing.

However ridiculous DRM seems, this isn't even about that. For TNT to say that it comes down to DRM, when ABC.com, NBC.com, Hulu, not to mention CNN (owned by Turner Broadcasting just like TNT) all stream DRM protected video to Macs.

Clearly someone at TNT made a bad decision, to use WMP instead of Flash, and that is the only statement that should be on our site:

"We did a stupid thing. Sorry you can't consume our product. We are sorry we cannot offer your eyeballs to our advertisers."

Christina said...

So, I just have to comment and say my husband is a computer nerd, it's why I married him. Alas, to my initial dismay, he refused to help me with anything computer associated( unless I really screwed the pooch). Anyway, now, when I can't figure out why my video isn't playing I figure it out myself. Furthermore, when I am pissed off by the answer, I search online for a way around the stupidity of the people at TNT. Really, I am in Grad school and when I walk into class it's like I'm in a frickin apple orchard. What a bunch of moronic imbeciles.

Oh, and let your wife figure out her Mac. Shes got a lot of machine agt her fingertips( no thats what she said jokes please) and she should be able to use it. Tough love man!

Thanks I will go "borrow" my TNT shows where I get all my HBO shows.

Cheers