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RTÉ says it's striving to improve Player amid complaints about 'frustrating' and 'ridiculous' service

“To say this is frustrating would be a gross understatement,” one viewer wrote.

RTÉ HAS SAID it constantly strives to improve the user experience of its online Player service amid complaints about the service not working properly.

A spokesperson said the national broadcaster tries to improve the experience from a technical point of view, as well as through adding new content.

Several complaints sent to RTÉ from September to November have been released to via a Freedom of Information request.

Viewers described the Player as “an embarrassment”, “ridiculous”, and the “worst streaming app I’ve ever used”.

In an email sent to RTÉ on 8 November, one viewer wrote: “I would like to register my disappointment at how poorly the RTÉ Player works.

“Considering the challenges facing you as a broadcaster and the changing habits of us viewers, I would have considered that the Player would have been getting the most attention from management.

“However what I, as a (TV) licence payer, get is a third rate excuse for a player.”

The person said they have no issues watching other online players, adding that the quality of the RTÉ service is “hard to understand considering the resources that are being given to RTÉ”.

“I’m also embarrassed because as our national broadcaster it gives the impression that we can’t do things correctly, especially when public funding is provided.”

In another email, sent to RTÉ on 1 November, a viewer said they tried to watch the Player but it “kept freezing”. They said the situation was “very frustrating”.

“Before you ask about the connection, the ads ran perfectly every time I had to retry. It’s not the first time it has happened … I hope you can fix it soon,” they added.

‘Dark ages’

In an email sent on 26 October, one viewer said the Player was “completely useless” and the ads loop in an “endless” fashion.

“It stops/starts and freezes all the time and is unable to play (a) show from start to finish. I’ve tried to update the app but this does not improve anything.

“I find it interesting that there is never an issue with the pre-programme or interval advertising. The issue only occurs with programme content.”

The person said they have been paying their TV licence for over 20 years, adding: “This is utterly unacceptable and I feel completely ripped off.”

On 5 October, one person wrote that they are “a major RTÉ fan” but that the Player is “the worst streaming app I’ve ever used”.

They said they tried to watch the Taoiseach’s address to the nation that night, but had to give up as the Player “kept stopping and replaying seconds just played”.

“This is not an isolated incident,” they added. “I really hope it is updated as it is such an asset to RTÉ once it works properly.”

On 17 September, one viewer wrote: “It was my first time watching anything on RTÉ Player for quite a while and I soon remembered why.

“The show CONSTANTLY stopped to buffer and the picture quality was terrible. This was also the case with previous shows I watched on RTÉ Player.

“I have a good internet connection and I never have any issues with any other streaming service.

“To say this is frustrating would be a gross understatement. I have always paid my licence fee on time. I hardly ever watch anything on RTÉ and it makes me very angry that the few shows I do want to watch are completely unwatchable for me.”

On 5 September, a viewer said the quality of the RTÉ Player, when compared to other streaming services, makes “Ireland look like we are in the dark ages”.

ISL issues

On 19 October, one person raised concerns about the Irish Sign language (ISL) function not working on the Player.

They wrote: “My family and I are users of the Irish Sign Language, this being the first and only language of some of my family.

“We have found the ISL interpretation of many RTÉ programmes to be really great in the past, and it is one of the only means in which we can watch them. Recently, the ISL functionality has broken on the RTÉ Player, and we cannot now access any of the ISL programmes.”

The viewer asked that the issue be addressed as a priority.

“There are many users of ISL in Ireland, and we are now not able to watch any programmes from RTÉ which is hugely disappointing during these times,” they wrote.

When asked about the issues raised by viewers, a spokesperson for RTÉ said the Player has a support team “that works 365 days a year and logs all feedback on the service”.

“These issues are then escalated to our technical teams,” they added.

The spokesperson also noted: “We constantly strive to improve the user experience both technically and by adding new content through live exclusives, box sets and longer catch-up rights from TV broadcast.”

In relation to the ISL problem, the spokesperson said RTÉ Player “works closely with representatives from access services groups to continue to improve the service”.

“This year following, consultation on users who prefer to watch Irish Sign Language (ISL) programmes, we introduced new features that make it easier to find content with this feature and easier to select the option. The feedback has been very positive and we aim to introduce more features in 2021.”

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