Nine’s double edged sword

April 24, 2009 — 4 Comments

One of the few Australian television programs we watch is Underbelly. However when I say watch I think we’ve watched it once when its broadcast on a Monday night, mostly we catch up with it during the week.

Nine was half reasonable in offering a DRM infested download of the show, as part of their “catchup TV” offering.

First couple of weeks was fine, but for at least the last 3-4 episodes, downloading it has been a pain. The download connection constantly drops out, so you need to restart it a dozen times to get it to finish. I’ve done a trace on the problems, it’s not on our end, it’s their server constantly cutting us off.

But the problems have gotten worse, because now the download speeds have become spotty. Where it might start at 120kbps down, it slows to 10kbps, before cutting out. This week that meant that when I wanted to watch it on Tuesday, I finally finished downloading it on Wednesday (note, because of the constant cut offs, you can’t just leave the computer to download it over night.)

But this week was the icing on the cake, because despite taking two days, and probably 5-6 hours to download on my 24mpbs ADSL2, Nine then inserted pre-roll ads. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t object to seeing ads on a legal download, but I object to being forced to view ads (the DRM meant we couldn’t fast forward, despite the download playing in Quicktime) when it was such a bloody hassle in getting the download to start with.

It’s enough to turn a person to piracy, after all, it would have taken maybe 2-3 hours max (possibly quicker) to download Underbelly from BitTorrent. If it was available on a streaming site (I didn’t check) I could have watched it on demand, without waiting for the download.

The big fail is why Nine is doing the downloads to begin with, and not offering Underbelly on demand, be it through a Flash, or Silverlight embed. Seven and Ten are offering shows this way, so why is Nine being different?

The point of offering an alternative to piracy is to offer an alternative that is similar, or more appealing to the pirated version. On this front, Nine fails.