[Linux-aus] ABC.net.au iView open formats ?

Jonathan Woithe jwoithe at just42.net
Fri Jan 10 01:57:16 EST 2014

On Thu, Jan 09, 2014 at 10:41:33PM +1100, Paul Parker wrote:
> Received complaints from younger users their ABC.net.au  iView episodes
> were not playing.
> Checked ABC forums, seems others having similar problem, past few days.

This is unfortunately a rehash of what went on in April/May/June 2013 which
persisted for most of 2013.

> Can we persuade ABC.net.au to consider using open/alternate, at least
> suitable for linux users, formats so all can keep watching ?

I sincerely hope so.  Unfortunately the situation looks very bleak.  The
ABC's iview FAQ now states that the minimum supported flash version is 11.7. 
This effectively leaves Linux users out in the cold unless they are willing
to use Chrome.  As most people are are, Adobe ceased development of the
Linux flash plugin with version 11.2.  The ABC iview FAQ says this
(http://www.abc.net.au/tv/iview/faq.htm, under "Does the desktop version run
on all operating systems"):

  ABC iview operates on platforms that support the very latest version of
  Adobe Flash. iview works on:

    + Macs that can run OSX 10.6 or above with Flash version 11.7
    + PCs running Windows OS with Flash version 11.7
    + Linux systems that are able to run Flash version 11.7 (Available with
      Google Chrome) Adobe has stopped Flash Player support for Linux at 11.2

  From time to time the ABC makes updates to iview's video streaming platform
  to take advantage of new technology and standards. Most recently, changes
  were undertaken to make iview's streaming platform compatible with HDS,
  Adobe's new standard for video streaming. This will improve iview's access
  to Australians on local networks who have previously experienced issues with
  RTMP streaming, and in future will mean we can unmeter iview's traffic to
  more Australians on a greater range of devices.


  It is the ABC's view that the Adobe Flash Player is currently the best
  technical solution for streaming to desktop users, both in terms of wide
  access to as many Australians as possible, quality user experience and the
  capability to protect our content from unauthorised download. Studios and
  other content suppliers insist on this protection ...

  Unfortunately, we have recently identified unresolved technical issues with
  older versions of the Adobe Flash Player which are incompatible with our
  streaming platform. In summary, Adobe Flash Player 10.2 and below do not
  correctly support streaming with our security features enabled.

  Regrettably, the minimum requirements for iview will now change - iview will
  require Adobe Flash Player version 11.7. ...

All of which is not all that great for users of Linux.  The final paragraph
of this entry appears to give some hope at first glance:

  We make all reasonable efforts to ensure we can continue serve the audience
  on their platform of choice, but while we are dependent on Adobe Flash
  Player for delivering video we cannot control the roadmap of Adobe to
  adequately support various platforms. We are constantly evaluating new
  streaming technologies and if a more suitable or reliable alternative
  becomes available that will make our content available to more Australians
  then we will adapt as necessary. 

However, this has more or less been the official line for the last few years
now and yet the ABC has made no moves towards the utilisation of HTML5
technologies for desktop users of iview.  There is no evidence to suggest
that we should expect this situation to change any time soon.

Having written the above, I have just tried ABC iview again.  I'm on the
linux.conf.au wired network at present, in Perth.  Time was around 10:45 pm
on 9 Jan 2014 Perth time.  To my complete surprise, iview appears to work
tonight under Linux with firefox 20.0.1 and flash version 
Iview is version 3.8.8, apparently.  I have not had iview work with this
combination for ages (admittedly it's been a month or so since I last
checked).  I tried an episode of QI plus a "Life" natural history
documentary.  I don't know what this means, both in terms of the fact that
it was quite definitely broken for most of 2013 and in light of the content
of the iview FAQ response quoted above.


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