Who sold TV stations this junk?

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Monday October 16, 2006.

It’s a perfect example of the people running media websites not getting with the program. They want to promote their television station’s newscast, or debate broadcast, or whatever, but they refuse to get with what’s actually being used in the modern world. I’m talking about local TV stations who only put up videos that work in Windows Media Player. And they don’t just use the Windows Media format – the videos themselves only work in Windows Media Player.

As a Mac user who will not change, I have a few biases. I like QuickTime. I hate Windows Media. Hate it. The quality sucks and the player itself is undeniably hideous. And save the business about how you can “skin” it. Skins exist to make hideous stuff less (often times more) hideous. Mac users everywhere felt the same as me, so Microsoft stopped supporting Windows Media for the Mac. Either that or they were playing some silly game with Apple. So a genius programmer decided to make a fantastic little program called Flip4Mac. It “flips” crappy WMV files into QuickTime viewable files. Actually, it just makes QT able to view the WMVs. Since Microsoft does whatever it can to not make life easier on Mac users, Flip4Mac was a godsend.

Except for when you want to watch an important event that a local news station has hosted. The latest travesty is the recent debate by the major gubernatorial candidates in Nevada. Granted, it wasn’t really a debate, but I would have loved to see Christopher Hansen bumrush the stage in his awesome American flag shirt. I followed the link provided by Ray Hagar and it led me to klas-tv.com. I see the pictures, which look interesting and click on the little video icon that opens a ridiculous page (it may not work for you, as I am a Mac user and you may not be). Why is the page ridiculous? Because it addresses all of the concerns I have with absolutely no resolution other than downloading a piece of software that I 1) don’t want, and 2) don’t need for the rest of my viewing experiences. Seriously. Question 3 (Does the Video Player support Flip4Mac? Answer: No) is a perfect illustration if the idiocy of the whole thing.

So what should we do? Well, for starters, I say that the local media need to get their collective act together. STOP INSISTING WE DO IT YOUR WAY! Start listening to your viewers. If you’re too concerned with pageviews so you can keep ad revenue up (as evidenced by the abundance of ads on the troubleshooting page – hey, it counts!), then embed some ads in the video you’re trying to get me to watch. I’m fine with that. Spend a tiny bit of time on this thing. Make the experience work and you’ll have goodwill as well as a new viewer. In fact, I had to check a Reno station just to make sure they hadn’t changed anything because it had been so long since I even tried to watch something there. A bad experience sometime ago led me to not even go back. Yup, whatever you have seems to be working just fine.

I say just go with Flash. Maybe I’m crazy, but this little company called YouTube used Flash-based movies, and people were able to watch their videos just fine (unless they had Flash disabled, which only people who want you to think they’re cool when they say that in their Digg comments do). In fact, they were even in the news this past week for something important. Here’s a hint: Google it. Flash works everywhere and it’s a third party. It doesn’t play along in the Windows vs. Mac game that people so often want to play. For the most part, it just works. That’s just a friendly suggestion from me to my favorite local news stations. Let’s hope somebody there starts thinking about the viewers.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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