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RTÉ 'committed' to improving Player after complaints about 'frustrating' and 'unusable' service

Viewers had issues watching the Rugby World Cup and other programmes.

Image: RTÉ Player

RTÉ HAS SAID it is “totally committed” to addressing the issues some viewers are experiencing with its online Player service.

The broadcaster has received several complaints about the Player stalling, not working or being “difficult to operate”.

TheJournal.ie has received copies of complaints sent to RTÉ about the Player in October, following a Freedom of Information request.

In one email sent on 1 October, a viewer wrote: “I wonder if you can tell me why the RTE Player is so difficult to operate?”

The person said that while trying to watch a box-set of ER they “sat through (today) the 5 ads preceding the programme on 6 occasions now only for it to fail to play the programme itself each time”.

“Is this a technical glitch? This has happened me numerous times with various programmes in recent months on the Player and it is incredibly frustrating.”

1 oct player Source: RTÉ

Rugby World Cup 

Another email, sent on 3 October, noted the issues a viewer had while trying to watch Ireland’s matches at the Rugby World Cup. The person said the matches wouldn’t load, despite trying two different internet connections.

They said they were “very disappointed” and that RTÉ should have anticipated many people would attempt to watch the matches on the Player at the same time and put measures in place to help the service “cope”.

It’s a bad viewing experience and just puts you off using the Player for anything in the future. I know many of my friends are having the same problem.

A number of other viewers also complained on social media after being unable to watch the Rugby World Cup.

One user said the adverts would load correctly but that there were “persistent outages throughout the rugby”, describing the service as “unusable”.

“Managed to watch a grand total of about 45 seconds of live rugby via the @rteplayer Completely unfit for purpose,” another viewer wrote.  

As well as being contacted by email, RTÉ receives complaints via Facebook. One user asked “what the hell is wrong with [the] Player?” and branded the service “ridiculous”.

Another viewer said the Player “buffers every few seconds” when they try to watch Fair City, describing this as “really annoying”.

‘No issue for majority of users’ 

When asked by TheJournal.ie about viewers’ complaints, a spokesperson stressed that the “vast majority of users” of the new RTÉ Player are “enjoying the many additional benefits of the service”, such as access to box-sets and streaming of live events.

However, they added that RTÉ is “aware that some users have had a less than satisfactory experience”.

The spokesperson said the user feedback received by the broadcaster is “helping to inform our understanding of the key issues and problems and we are addressing all of these with our technical service provider”.

“Unlike many other streaming services, RTÉ Player is aiming to offer live and on demand service and this brings extra complexity in delivery and technical demands.”

They added that the Player is “a hugely important service for RTÉ, both now, and for our ambitions for the future”.

We are totally committed to working on addressing the current issues around the functionality of this service, and to continue to try and enhance it in the future. This will require both further investment and time, but we are determined to get it right.

Player streams have grown by 20% in the last year and the service has over 900,000 unique users each month.

RTÉ’s feedback email address was contacted over 400 times in October and more than 6,000 times from January to October. Many, but not all, of these emails are complaints.

“People get in touch for a variety of reasons such as content availability, rights, international streaming, performance and technology issues,” a spokesperson said.

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Órla Ryan

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