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'In the name of all that is divine': Viewers complain to RTÉ about 'frustrating' Player service

One viewer described the Player as “annoying, frustrating and useless”.

Screenshot 2021-12-16 10.27.07 RTÉ RTÉ

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 stalling, crashing or not working at all, as well as ads looping instead of the programme itself playing.

Several complaints sent to RTÉ in recent weeks have been released to The Journal via a Freedom of Information request.

A number of people said their internet speed or the device on which they were watching was not the issue. In some cases, the sound would work for the adverts but not the show itself.

In other cases, the audio description would come on automatically but be distorted, making the programme unwatchable. One viewer described the Player as “annoying, frustrating and useless”.

In an email sent to RTÉ on 28 October, one viewer wrote that the Player has “more technical issues than other streaming services combined”. This viewer raised issues about both the visual and audio quality of the streaming service.

“We have been having different technical issues with RTE Player on a repeat [sic] basis over the past few months. Audio description kept turning on mid-episode without us selecting it, when watching Striking Out.

“The sound just disappeared mid-episode, when watching Kin. The player does not store the point at which a programme is to be resumed, if we ever stop mid-episode, when watching anything.

“When starting a new series, clicking ‘Watch Now’ takes you to the final rather than first episode. Additionally, the visual quality is unreliable and variable.

In our experience, RTE Player has more problems than our other streaming services combined (which includes four). We keep our software updated and pay our licence fee, and expect a reasonable service. At present, it is unsatisfactory.

On 10 October, another viewer explained they had difficulty watching clips from the Late Late Show on the Player on “a gloomy Sunday morning”.

They wrote: “I sat down to watch some clips from the Late Late from Friday, as normally I am wrecked by 9.30pm on a Friday. In the name of all that is divine please tell me how the adverts are all clear up on the Player but as soon as Ryan starts to interview a guest the screen freezes. I pay my license [fee] so the adverts really “P” me off.”

This person said the adverts played several times without any issue but when presenter Ryan Tubridy started to speak the Player froze “again, again and again”.

Screenshot 2021-12-16 09.34.44

A number of people said the adverts on the Player generally played without any issue, but the platform often stalled during the programme itself.

On 3 October, one viewer noted they had tried to watch an episode of Fair City “numerous times” without any success. At one point, they said they watched six ads in a row “and then nothing”.

“It is so frustrating. I thought that by now RTE would have sorted out issues with the player. What’s the point in having it if I can’t rely on it?


Screenshot 2021-12-16 09.33.10

On 16 October, another person described the Player as “the most annoying, frustrating and useless and sloooow [sic] thing ever. Why is it advertised as a way of catching up? If you have loads of time to watch pink circling on a black screen then maybe.”

On 5 October, a viewer said they were unable to watch episodes of Kin because the audio description kept coming on automatically but the audio was “distorted”, making the show unwatchable.

When the person logged out in a bid to rectify the issue, they said they had to watch “no less than 24 ads”.

On 1 November, a person said they got “a ‘playback error’ after the ads have played”. They added: “Our Internet has 100mps download so that isn’t the problem. Can you advise if there is anything that will be done to rectify this problem.”

Screenshot 2021-12-16 09.29.59

On 22 October, one viewer complained that they had not received a response to a previous complaint about the Player. This person said RTÉ “is the national service provider and I would expect they would take time to address such issues”.

“Failing a response and correction to the issue I will not be paying my next licence fee and I will move to another service,” they added.

On 29 October, RTÉ received a complaint that wasn’t specifically about the Player.

A self-described “disgusted viewer” wrote:

I wish to complain about the decision to delay the Late Late Show tonight in order to show Mrs Brown’s Boys. I’m in my 70s and don’t ever remember the LLS being delayed for anything. Why was Mrs Brown’s Boys not shown on RTE 2 or the Player?

The viewer said they did not like Mrs Brown’s Boys and was annoyed they also had to watch the cast on the Late Late Show “in order not to miss the other guests”.

When asked about the complaints raised by viewers, a spokesperson for RTÉ told The Journal the broadcaster “welcomes feedback from the audience on all of our services”.

“The RTÉ Player has a customer service team who work through feedback from customers to establish details and offer solutions.

“We want to make sure the audience have the best possible experience on RTÉ Player and continuously work to improve it with updates to content, design and technology,” they said in a statement.

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