CBS Streaming Service Chokes On The Grammys, But YouTube Takedown Apparatus Works Just Fine

from the not-really-innovatin' dept

CBS had the perfect opportunity over the extended weekend to show that the company had evolved and was ready to embrace the modern streaming era. CBS had announced that users could watch the Grammy Awards live online on Monday Night — but only if customers signed up for a trial of CBS’ $6 per month “All Access” streaming service. And while not necessarily a bad promotional idea on its surface, it appears that CBS choked completely on the opportunity, with numerous customers reporting that they couldn’t even get the stream to start:

Some of the problems were thanks to the fact that users eager to watch the stream didn’t live in the service’s 130 launch market territory. CBS ultimately indicated that the problems that occurred with the stream were thanks to their systems being unable to determine user location, effectively causing the company’s authentication systems to implode for many users:

“Some users experienced temporary difficulty accessing the live online feed of the Grammys. Our location services provider had a brief issue verifying user location. That issue has since been resolved and all users are back online,? a CBS Interactive spokesman said.”

And while technical glitches happen, this is the same company that has waged war on companies trying to deliver a more innovative, efficient and modern TV viewing experience for decades. This behavior has included suing and whining about Aereo; suing to stop Dish’s Hopper ad-skipping technology (and ignoring editorial firewalls over at CNET to hurt said product in the press); whining about Netflix; suing Star Trek fans for expressing their fandom; and constantly threatening to bury over-the-air TV behind the cable paywall unless everybody does exactly what CBS wants.

And indeed, while CBS couldn’t get its own streaming service to work, the company’s copyright shutdown apparatus worked perfectly well, so that fans of the awards show couldn’t watch it anywhere:

So in short, CBS has fought tooth and nail to stop other companies from offering a next-generation viewing experience. And when presented with the opportunity to highlight why CBS should be considered the innovation gold standard, the company tripped on its shoelaces and fell flat on its face. Perhaps CBS should stick to the space in which it’s clearly the most innovative: being anti-innovation.

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Companies: cbs, youtube

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Comments on “CBS Streaming Service Chokes On The Grammys, But YouTube Takedown Apparatus Works Just Fine”

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Unintended Brilliance says:

This actually is perfect for CBS, they get to show that they tried to offer people what they asked for “streaming” but it still didn’t curb piracy. Why else would they have youtube streams to take down? Why else would the total stream count be so low? Its all about framing this failure in the light of pirates just want to steal and reasonable customers will just pay traditional cable costs.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Something for Everyone

CBS, casting about for someone (thing), anyone (thing) to blame all their woes upon took notice of their feet. Ready, aim, fire.

In their announcement they mentioned that in their efforts to get as many people as possible to view their pointless show they exercised the maximum amount of control by preventing people not ‘within’ their 130 designated viewing areas which while all within the continental US certain viewers weren’t within those ‘market’ areas that their marketing people said should make up the test market. And because someone might not live within those test market areas but might live in the continental US and are INTERESTED in their pointless show, they should be prevented from seeing it. They are now interviewing spin agencies that can re-spin the badly spun debut of the ironically named ‘All Access’ service.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Something for Everyone

I completely agree, except that now that I think about it there could be a situation here where the problem wouldn’t be fixable without having a backup plan in place beforehand. That is the fact that many of the advertising slots during the feed are not national but rather regional or local. Without knowing the location of the viewer, the system handling the specific stream to that viewer would not know which content to insert into those spots and could conceivably shut down due to this. Of course if the system were designed where their was a backup alternative that was set to stream as default in case of a failure, then this would not have happened. My point here is, it is entirely possible that this is poor planning and design on their part instead of something more nefarious.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Something for Everyone

Right. They could have planned that if a subscriber was not in a test area they got national ads, or no ads, or ads from the closest test market, and still let them get the stream, and figured out later how to monetized those people for the next event or normal usage. Instead, they freaked, which may or may not be nefarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

This shows exactly how screwed up the content cartels are. Compare their reaction to the way any other B-C business normally handle a problem like that.

1. If a customer has a legitimately bad experience at a restaurant and complains, it is common for the manager to either comp or discount the meal or offer a free dessert or something to attempt to repair their relationship with the customer so that they will consider returning.

2. If a retail store is out of stock on an item that is perhaps on sale it is common for the store to offer a comparable item or the next upgraded item for the same price or a raincheck so that the customer can purchase it at the sale price when more are in stock even if the sale has ended.

If the location validation system was causing the problem, causing their product not to be available to anyone on the service, the logical thing to do would be bypass the location system altogether to ensure that the people who have signed up and are paying customers are getting what they paid for even if that means that others maybe getting it as well.

If retail stores and restaurants treated their customers with the disdain that CBS has here, they soon would have no customers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here’s the idiocy of that. They limited the stream to only markets where there is a CBS network affiliate (ie. an OTA station). The places where OTA stations are not available is an unserved market that would make get them more eyeballs which would make the advertising time regional and national ads worth MORE. They could also open up a new online only class that filled in for the slots that were otherwise taken by the appropriate local or regional ads. It’s free money they are simply leaving on the table.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re: Re:

So you PAY for Cable TV paying for CBS and you Pay CBS another $6 on top of that? Then yes you are a fool!

Having a OTA has nothing to do with it. You’re paying for Cable TV, you already have CBS why pay more to them? If you don’t have cable and just Internet, maybe a antenna doesn’t work well, good, pay the $6 to CBS if you want. As in you’re paying one or the other, not both at once. Quite frankly $6 a month for CBS is a rip-off. Just think if ABC, NBC, FOX, CW also all asked for $6. Now you’re paying $30. Hulu+ is a much better deal then paying for CBS All Access, even at $13 for few commercials because that at least has a bunch more content from many places.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Do me a favor, open this in another tab and let it play…

A legacy player finally admits they need to embrace technology that they were unable to kill. In fact one might argue that their focus on trying to kill it rather than embrace and innovate with it has put them out of the race.

They don’t give a shit if they can provide what the consumer wants, they want control. This control has been growing unchecked and enshrined in law. We need more control, we need to deny new technology, we need others to bear more costs to keep us in control.

Streaming a feed on the internet isn’t hard – Twitch, NetFlix, Amazon, Google, hell even a 12 yr old can do it. What broke it? The bolted on control factor. We have to make sure that you don’t violate our geographic limitations and we are punishing EVERYONE because we made rules that make no sense in a global market. We are terrified to try and change these things, because we might make less money (despite the decades of evidence that new tech earns us more).

Their job is no longer giving people what they want, it is about trying to force people to give up control of how they want to do things. We will try to stream this thing we put on television for FREE, but you have to pay. We will keep you from recording it and skipping commercials. We will pursue you if you just try see the show without allowing us our total control. We will pretend the world isn’t interconnected instantly, that people have shared moments at the same time despite thousands of miles between them. We will stay the old course, and just demand more control until we finally get total control… and notice people no longer look at our content because they moved onto someone who treats them like consumers not cattle to be controlled.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Consider this: CBS is your half-senile grandparent that you are you are trying to introduce to modern technology that only half gets it when they try – if they get it at all – because they can’t give up on thinking the way they always have and just doesn’t understand that the new stuff doesn’t exactly work like the old stuff did and often times just want to give up on it because somehow it seems just too hard for them to wrap their brain around. They are trying to do streaming but they can’t seem to get it in their heads that geographic boundaries mean nothing on the Net. With OTA the due to the limitations of the broadcast signal it meant advertising in one area was worth more than another but that model is meaningless here. They could have built a system that took into account other places where they don’t have OTA stations and made up something to charge for selling the advertising there. As I said above, it’s free money they are leaving on the table. But somehow it’s too hard for them to comprehend because it doesn’t fit in with the way they are used to thinking. So they built a system around what they know and didn’t think to consider anything else. You can tell them over and over but just like trying to teach grandpa how to use an iPad that he just can’t seem to understand regardless of how simple it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would say given that it is CBS and their history of freaking out over any use that works in any way they didn’t originally conceive of and have complete control over, yes it’s probably DRM but it isn’t necessarily. It could simply be that they designed it to work with their advertising system and didn’t take into account what would happen if the location data was missing which caused it to fail.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It could simply be that they designed it to work with their advertising system and didn’t take into account what would happen if the location data was missing which caused it to fail.”

Then it was poorly designed and the thing that caused the issue was the part designed to block people from accessing the service if they happened to be sitting in the wrong place. That’s DRM, whether they want to admit it or not.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Conclusion on Brain Status

The Grammy’s is kind of a specialty show. It’s not like a movie or a TV series; it’s a unique event that occurs one time per year. It’s also not like sports; who would we expect would watch it after the results are announced?

Since the whole point is to make money and since the show is almost wholly unsalable after the event is over, requiring live streaming: why would location services even be involved?

CBS hates making money? Can’t be that, we all know better than that.

Oh, wait, I get it: CBS lacks a brain.

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