Failures

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
all access, grammy's, streaming, takedowns, tv, tv streaming

Companies:
cbs, youtube



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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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 10:46am

    Works like the Government. Tax collection works like a charm. The rest doesn't. Try to be an average joe and evade taxes to see how fast the hammer of justice smashes you ;)

    Considering it is a Government granted monopoly it shouldn't be a surprise, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 10:49am

    Can't
    Be
    Streamed

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:00am

    Business 101

    The one thing that must never catch you on the wrong foot is success. If your business plan does not scale sufficiently to cope with success, why even start?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:17am

      Re: Business 101

      He didn't say anything about it being a capacity issue. He said the location validation service that was setup to make sure you happened to not be in the wrong place when you wanted to watch due to the artificial boundaries that they had come up with was what caused the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Unintended Brilliance, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:09am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:11am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:31am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 12:40pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:15am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 11:45am

    CBS Streaming Subscriber

    I checked my email this morning and received one from CBS sent yesterday. It informed me I can watch the Grammys streamed live tonight. I had already Missed to opportunity to try.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JBDragon, 16 Feb 2016 @ 12:41pm

    You really have to be a FOOL to PAY for Cable TV and the Broadcast channels which includes CBS and then on top of that, pay another $6 to CBS All Access. Which I believe still has ad's.

    I'll continue to use my Antenna and watch them for FREE Legally. Though I didn't waste my time watching the Grammy's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      steell (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      Fool speaking, although one wonders about someone that thinks everyone in the country has access to OTA TV.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 1:35pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JBDragon, 16 Feb 2016 @ 3:19pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 4:59pm

      Re:

      Careful, if you stand up to go to the toilet while an advert is playing, the local copyright fanboys will accuse you of stealing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 12:57pm

    "And when presented with the opportunity to highlight why CBS should be considered the innovation gold standard, the company stepped on its dick and fell flat on its face."

    FTFY

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Feb 2016 @ 1:59pm

    Do me a favor, open this in another tab and let it play...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzLT6_TQmq8

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 2:56pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Feb 2016 @ 4:55pm

    Here's a nifty idea CBS, get rid of the ridiculous geo blocking and just let anyone in the world sign up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 17 Feb 2016 @ 1:48am

    So... a form of DRM fails (and yes, enforced geolocation is DRM), only paying customers are affected, then the company prefers to go after the non-DRM alternatives than resolve the problems caused by the DRM? Pretty much standard.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2016 @ 10:06am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 18 Feb 2016 @ 12:09am

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Feb 2016 @ 5:58am

    Hobbled by geo-location. Take the hint, CBS: make this available to all who wish to subscribe, wherever they live!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 17 Feb 2016 @ 7:06am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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