Channel 4 fails to open archives to Mac, Linux fans
4oD stays locked behind Windows
Broadcaster Channel 4 has admitted the archive section of its web-based service will remain unavailable to Mac and Linux users.
The terrestrial TV company’s popular 4oD service, which offers viewers thousands of hours of archive TV shows and films to stream, download or rent, remains a Windows XP and Vista-only domain, C4 told The Register.
Mac and Linux users, as well as Firefox fans, will continue to be frozen out of the service.
The only web browser currently supported by 4oD, which runs in Windows Media Player 10 or above, is Microsoft's Internet Explorer versions 5.5, 6 and 7.
“It was always our intention to offer a Mac compatible VOD service as part of the planned launch of Kangaroo,” said a C4 spokeswoman.
“However, following the decision by the Competition Commission to prohibit [Project] Kangaroo we are now looking at ways to further enhance our existing on-demand offering.”
Project Kanagaroo was a joint video on demand (VOD) venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and C4. Competition regulators kyboshed plans in early February saying such a combined force would have too much market power in the UK telly biz.
The spokeswoman insisted it wasn’t all bad news for non-Windows users, however, by pointing out that Mac and Linux fans would soon be able to view C4 television shows via its Catch Up service. It's set to launch soon on Adobe’s Flash technology that works across Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
At the moment C4 viewers can only catch up on the past 30 days of the broadcaster's output via a Windows-based PC using Microsoft's Media Player video format.
C4 declined to comment on when its Flash-based Catch Up will launch, but it is widely expected to land this month. The public service broadcaster also confirmed to El Reg that it had no plans to release a desktop version of its rival to the Beeb’s iPlayer.
The BBC finally rolled out a desktop version of its iPlayer service in late 2008. That launch followed months of complaints from angry Mac and Linux users who were blocked from using the Windows XP-only service when it landed in July 2007.
By December 2007, the Beeb responded to demands for the service to be made available to everyone in the UK by offering a Flash-based version of iPlayer.
But it wasn't until the end of last year that Auntie was finally able to offer a desktop version of iPlayer. ®
"...but the fact remains that the programme producers are actually within their rights to insist on it, and they will."
But that doesn't mean that anyone will want their product. If all the broadcasters refused to transmit DRM infested output, the production company would have its bluff called and have to decide if it actually had a viable business model.
RE: Why do they have to make their own software?
"There are plenty of free video players around. The porn shops don't insist I wait for them to develop their own players. Even Google/youtube do not insist that I use flash.
Get a clue BBC/CH4/...: stick to making and broadcasting content and leave the custom software disasters to the NHS"
The problem for all of the channels is simply copyright. Most Channels (especially Channel 4 which actually has no production facilities) rely on other companies to produce their programmes. These companies often insist that their output is protected against illegal copying/downloading. The best way for the channel to do this is use some form of DRM. You may argue about whether DRM is right or not all you want, but the fact remains that the programme producers are actually within their rights to insist on it, and they will.
How many opensource or free codecs or video player support a full DRM system that is easily distributed to thousands of users? WMP has it's faults, but DRM is piss easy on it. (as long as you are running Windows).
Google/Youtube does not have that problem. Where they did have content from certain producers (on Google Video), they did use a system with DRM, but 98% of their content is not licenced..
I see a few comments on here about people getting video files from torrents.
Yet, as soon as The Reg publishes a story about an ISP throttling P2P the commenters all start crying and say that all they download is "Linux ISOs". Yeah, right.