Following the news last week that Microsoft and UK-based retailer Tesco announced a commercial agreement (no details of the financial arrangements were published) it is interesting to see that one media company who previously adopted Microsoft Silverlight for its online TV catch-up service has completely replaced the Silverlight-based player for one built using Adobe Flash Player.
ITV, owner of the UK’s largest commercial television channel in terms of audience share and advertising revenue, had been using Silverlight since the launch of the service, but if the ITV forums and other reports are anything to go by, the use of Silverlight had certainly caused frustration for many visitors to the site trying to use ITV Player.
I have no inside knowledge as to what caused ITV to walk away from Microsoft’s technology and instead use Flash Player to stream programmes such as Coronation Street, Emmerdale and X Factor on the ITV Player; it seems though that a combination of the reported technical problems experienced by end-users and the relatively low distribution of the the runtime, which required most visitors to install Silverlight, proved to be too much of a barrier for end-user adoption, especially when compared with the successful use of Flash for BBC iPlayer, 4 on-demand and Five TV’s Demand 5 service.
Note: it looks as if ITV are still in the process of updating their site so expect some minor issues whilst they finish the process.
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Yay, Long live Flash!!
A loss for free software users – Moonlight is a lot more functional than Gnash.
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I’ve had all sorts of problems with Silverlight, so this is good news for me and more importantly, my wife….
The Original Silverlight version of the ITV “Catch-Up” site was created by a company called Splendid, based in Central London, http://www.howsplendid.com/WorkItem.aspx?id=32
Splendid are a Microsoft partner company and try to encourage the expansion of Silverlight.
I’ve worked for a MS-biased company with Tesco Digital as a client. MS fund various projects behind the scenes, Tescos and others, attempting to buy market share for Silverlight and .Net, while the normal logical choice of Flash/Flex solutions get sidelined. Silverlight was chosen again and again for projects not because it was the best choice, but because of MS $$$. One of the “high points” at MS MIX 2008 showcased “The Future” of home shopping, with various lame Tesco widgets integrated into the Windows 7 desktop, to much whooping and hollerin from the MS crowd. Funnily enough Adobe Flash was used to spoof various bits of interactive content that they couldn’t get working in Silverlight. The biggest cheer went up when they scanned a barcode with a webcam – this was just smoke and mirrors and not actually functional; however, barcode scanning linking directly to webservices such as Amazon has been available for around 4 years now on the Flash platform. I find it hard to believe that IT directors with vast budgets are allowed to get away with signing off projects aimed at all consumers but that are either Windows 7 only, or flakey Silverlight, while there are better cross-platform and proven solutions for RIAs out there.
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ITV now has a statement at The Register: