Dear iTunes: This is why you fail.

 So tonight I was experiencing a number of problems with iTunes and did some googling.  I came across this article, which shows that perhaps I’m not the only one having trouble with buying into their TV market.

http://appadvice.com/appnn/2010/01/apple-unhappy-with-itunes-tv-show-sales-pushing-to-cut-prices/ 

Background: earlier this year (or maybe sometime last year) I did some math to figure out the value of actually paying for television.  At roughly $45/month, it was a no-brainer. I watch two shows regularly right now (besides the occasional "whatever’s on" that I used to watch – something I’m happy to do without) — Glee, and The Simpsons.  Both available on iTunes for reasonable prices.  A full "season pass" of Glee is 64.99 and the Simpsons is $59.99. In HD, I might add.  A total of $124.98 per year.  Less than 3 months of service from Bell.

So, I figured, I’ll be an early-ish adopter. Certainly not early – TV has been available for iTunes purchase for a while – but early-ish. I’ll add that I don’t believe in downloading it for free (unless the network provides it) as, while I’d like to have copyright-free everything, I recognize that the people that work hard to make these productions deserve to be compensated.  Though after experiences of late, I totally understand why people resort to free alternatives.

Tonight was the "return" of season 1 of Glee.  On television, that is. Fail #1 – television shows are not available on iTunes until at least the next day. As of this writing, Glee is airing on the West coast (the last place to air it in North America), but is still not available on iTunes (though the free preview of tonight’s episode was just removed from the store – so I’m hopeful this changes soon).  If iTunes ever expects to replace television – which for countless reasons I hope will happen one day (whether it be iTunes or someone else, I’m indifferent) – it simply can’t be hours or days behind its competition.  What’s worse (fail #2), there is no INFORMATION on when tonight’s episode will be available — at least if there were, I as the customer would be slightly less frustrated, and could at least predict when television shows I’d like to watch will be "on."  I came across the article linked above while searching for information on when shows become available – and that was the closest thing I could find.

Finally, fail #3.  Apple prides itself (or, at least, its users pride themselves) on the fact that everything it comes out with works right away and requires very little user troubleshooting or interaction.  Not so with videos in iTunes.  I wish I knew what the problems were, but freezing/locking up and outright crashing of the entire computer are common in any video I watch.  To amuse myself while waiting for tonight’s episode to go up, I downloaded the mid-season finale (worth the 3.49 investment… if you can get it to work) and quickly learned that the video will a) automatically lock up at some point in the first 5-10 minutes after hitting play, b) lock up everytime you do ANYTHING in iTunes, including adjusting the volume or switching between full screen and not full screen, and c) lock up randomly every once in a while just for fun.  It usually returns if you wait it out, but usually the video has progressed far enough along without you that you need to rewind, causing b and or c to recur.  I’d previously had this problem while trying to watch even music videos on my old computer (I’m doing all this on my new computer since it has an HD monitor), but this was usually resolved by closing everything that wasn’t iTunes and running the video full screen.  I’ve tried searching in the iTunes help and Apple support forums — there are a lot of other people asking the same questions, but no one getting answers.

So, my prescription if iTunes ever wants to capture the television market — make it current, and make it work.  Not hard. Fairly obvious, for that matter.  But absolutely necessary.

I will continue to buy TV on iTunes – it’s now my only source of this media – but I won’t recommend it to friends. I’d like to… but can’t in clear conscience.  Here’s hoping improvements are made!

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One response to this post.

  1. hey! i use ninjavideo which uploads HD quality of tv shows (although mostly by the next day). it’s free, you just need divx. and you need to run the applet. but it’s easy and i no longer download and watch HD streaming.

    Reply

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