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The RTÉ Player homepage

'Why do I pay my TV licence?': Viewers complain about 'awful' RTÉ Player

The State broadcaster said it has been “improving the reliability and resilience” of the service.

VIEWERS HAVE COMPLAINED about the quality of the RTÉ Player in recent emails sent to the national broadcaster.

Members of the public complained about the online streaming service freezing or just playing ads rather than the programme itself, among other issues.

A number of people said their internet speed or the device on which they were watching was not the issue.

Complaints sent to RTÉ from September to November were released to The Journal via a Freedom of Information request.

In one email sent on 25 October, a viewer living in Dublin wrote that the RTÉ Player is “rubbish”.

They continued: “Why is the RTÉ Player app so bad? The live TV section is useless. It doesn’t play [anything] live – stop, start, stop, start – it’s unwatchable.

But it doesn’t have a problem playing the advertising. Why do I pay my TV licence for this rubbish? I’m going to have a good think on whether to pay my TV licence or not. Because this is a joke … It’s a disgrace.

In an email sent on 21 November, another viewer contacted RTÉ to complain about the service, saying it was not their first time to do so.

They wrote: “I’m again contacting you about the RTÉ Player. Can you just listen to the complaints people have and understand it’s from your end?

“You spend millions on people who run your shows. You have the TV licence paid to you yet the Player remains the worst one I’ve ever seen.

“I’ve tried to use it for the last few days but now have a new problem which, after waiting on ads to stop, it tells me it will resume shortly, six minutes later still nothing … nine minutes and nothing.

“Please, I’m asking you to look into this. I’m not the only one, if you look online you’ll see hundreds of negative reviews of it.

“I’ve used BBC, Channel 4 and others and they are perfect. You can also pause, rewind and [fast-forward] on them, but RTÉ doesn’t allow any of that – it shows how far behind you are.”

rte player 1 (3)

In another email, sent in late October, a viewer who was trying to watch Prime Time wrote: “Why is the Player so awful, [it] stops every three seconds. Totally unusable. Why???”

‘Fighting for breath in between terrible music’

A number of people who complained about the service in recent months had issues with advertisements.

One person who contacted RTÉ on 3 October said: “I’m sure you have received this complaint on numerous occasions by now, I just feel the need to share my thoughts with you.

“I just want to share with you my frustration of trying to watch any video on the RTÉ site – be that the RTÉ Player or a news clip where you force every user to sit through minutes worth of adverts without the option of forwarding it, I must admit that instead of making me sit through the forced advert I just close it…

“Please stop trying to force feed your customer base for the sake of your advertising revenue, it just sours the taste of the whole meal … Thanks for listening to the rant.”

rte player 3 (2)

In an email sent a couple of days later, another viewer expressed their frustration with the advertisements – but for a different reason. This time the adverts wouldn’t load properly.

They wrote: “I’ve been trying to watch some programmes on the Player for the last week and the ads are taking roughly 10 minutes each to load before and during the break.

“There is no issue with our internet and we have tested through cable and wireless… We also don’t have any other issues with ads buffering on any other app. If you could please check to make sure there is no technical fault on your side.”

In an email sent to the broadcaster in late September, one person said that the interval being played on the Player was “extremely irritating”.

“It sounds like someone fighting for breath in between terrible music. Is there not a reason you can just show adverts?,” the viewer wrote.

Reliability and resilience

When asked to comment on the issues raised by viewers in these emails, a spokesperson for RTÉ said: “Over the last two years, we have been focusing on investing in and improving the reliability and resilience of RTÉ Player and particularly our ability to scale to meet the rapidly increasingly audiences we’re seeing, both live and on-demand.”

The spokesperson added that during the recent World Cup the RTÉ Player “delivered its highest concurrent audiences ever, with a total of 8.5 million streams and 1.8 million unique devices”, adding that this “demonstrates that our efforts have been effective”.

“We are committed to continuing to invest in RTÉ Player to continuously improve the service and deliver the best possible user experience.”

In terms of advertising, the spokesperson noted that the Player is an advertising-funded streaming service, similar to those of other broadcasters.

“RTÉ is mandated to monetise its services — linear and digital,” they added.

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