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March Madness on Linux?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
In past years I've been able to trick the streaming site for the NCAA basketball tourney into letting me watch the games on Linux. A couple years ago I could watch games simply by connecting to the appropriate stream URL with mplayer. This year may leave us non-Windows users entirely out in the cold.

Each year the NCAA chooses to adopt whatever is the most current Microsoft technology for its streams. Last year they were in WMV9, I believe, for which codecs are available that work with software like mplayer. This year they are, not surprisingly, using Silverlight. Now if you visit the NCAA's site, it tells you to install Silverlight and directs you to Microsoft's page that lists Moonlight as an appropriate alternative. With Moonlight installed, I get the confirmation that I'm running "version 1.0.30401.0" when I visit the Silverlight installation page. Apparently that's not good enough for the NCAA, though, as it wants me to install Silverlight 2 which, of course, has no free alternative. (I also have to lie about my User-Agent even to get this far, but that's the easiest part of the task.)

Well, if I can't watch an HQ stream, how about a low-quality stream instead? Now I'm told I need to have Windows Media Player 9 installed.

So as far as I can tell, the NCAA, CBS, and their affiliated advertisers don't really care whether they get me as a viewer or not. As a former academic, I find this highly ironic considering that the NCAA represents colleges and universities for whom openness is a fundamental tenet. I also doubt this decision simply reflects ignorance on the part of the NCAA about the implications of its choice of technology. A more parsimonious explanation might be that the NCAA receives a scad of cash from Microsoft each year to get its technology installed on the desktops of the millions of college basketball fans around the nation.
post #2 of 19
Welcome to new New, Balkanzied, Locked-Down, DRM'd World Wide Web

If they don't want our eyes, then screw 'em.

Is turning away intelligent, educated, financially viable viewers a good business model?

We are BEYOND the point of merely being annoyed- we need to demonstrate ANGER.

Why was ad-supported content (whether broadcast sports or TV shows) sufficient from 1950 through the 1990's (over the air content), with zero DRM, and now they want pay-to-watch, WITH ads on most cable/sat networks!?

IMO, everyone are fools for paying into this scheme.

You pay your cable/sat/ISP bill, then the cable/sat/ISP provider turns around and gives a significant portion of your money to each network for the "right" to carry their content WITH ADS!? You're PAYING THEM to carry ads that make them MORE money!?

At MINUMUM, the networks and cable/sat carriers TRIPLE DIP-

(1) The EXCESSIVE ad breaks, which are now 30% or more of the broadcast time of the program- about 20 minutes per hour for a typical new network show. In the late 1960's, a program like the original Star Trek had 52 minutes of program per hour- now down to less than 40 minutes. You do the math- over 24 extra 30 second ad spots per hour, times the cost of a 30 second ad...

(2) They put product placements in the program for MORE ad revenue

(3) They destroy the program's art/cultural/functional value with a THIRD ad revenue source- screen bugs and screen banners during the program!

That 52 minutes of program material in the late 1960's was FULLY funded by the 8 minutes of ads (plus syndication, merchandising, etc, which still exist today). That was WITHOUT product placement or screen bugs/banners!

Why doesn't the 20+ minutes of ads, plus product placements, plus on screen bug ads, fully cover the costs?

They are actually QUADRUPLE dipping if you count the money you pay them for the luxury of delivering these ad sources to you.

And production costs have DECREASED by any meaningful measure.

Is it reasonable to even be involved in this scheme?

...and that's not even considering the scam that is major college/pro sports. Same issue with ads during the game, in the game, on the players uniforms, and the same issue with your ticket money/sports channel money going to pay overinflated player's salaries and their owners. There is ZERO reason for ANY player to have a salary more than a few hundred thousand/year max for the BEST players. The best players can always earn their 10's of millions on endorsement deals if they are good enough/popular enough. That way, ticket prices for consumers/fans would be minimized. But broadcast sports should be 100% covered with ad revenue.
post #3 of 19
Updated rant with data points...

...so yes, it *is* pure Madness to want to partake in these ad Ponzi schemes or vendor lock-in scams (Silverlight), whether March or any other month of the year
post #4 of 19
I'm hearing you loud and clear on this one. I've watched MMOD every year at CBSSports.com since it went live, and this year, I have completely dissolved all my remaining Windows boxes, only to find that without Silverlight and IE, I'm stuck.

Why didn't we just elect Steve Ballmer for president...he's practically running the country, anyway...
post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlaidRadish View Post

I'm hearing you loud and clear on this one. I've watched MMOD every year at CBSSports.com since it went live, and this year, I have completely dissolved all my remaining Windows boxes, only to find that without Silverlight and IE, I'm stuck.

Why didn't we just elect Steve Ballmer for president...he's practically running the country, anyway...

...I hope you don't weaken and fall for their trap....
post #6 of 19
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post

A more parsimonious explanation might be that the NCAA receives a scad of cash from Microsoft each year to get its technology installed on the desktops of the millions of college basketball fans around the nation.

The little Windows logo that appears from time to time next to the scoring line at the top of the televised events tends to confirm this point of view.

I ended up running one of the release candidates for Win7 inside VirtualBox. (Traitorous, I know.) The "seamless" mode for VirtualBox is really pretty nifty. I have the Windows task bar at the top of my screen and the KDE bar at the bottom. I haven't had any trouble running both of these simultaneously on a machine with only 1GB of memory. I allocated 512 MB to Win7 which surprisingly worked rather well; I doubt Vista could do the same.

I found the Slashdot article predictable and rather useless. One suggestion was to submit a complaint on the web site, which I had done a week or so ago already. I think one of the selling points for Silverlight might have been the fact that the application could be designed to force viewers to watch ads. If a game goes to commercial, the interface is pretty much disabled until the ads are over. You cannot, for instance, switch to a different game while the ads are running. (Someone posted the suggestion that adjusting the audio level gets around this restriction; I haven't tried that yet.) I wonder when we'll start seeing this technology applied to set-top boxes and TV tuners

It's also nearly impossible to structure the display to show only the video without the surrounding advertising content. AdBlock Plus stops the ads to the right of the screen, but the application enforces restrictions on screen height that make it impossible to hide the advertising bar at the top. Running the VM in a window rather than seamlessly helps some, but I've yet to find a combination of settings that makes it possible to put just the video portion on the screen to the exclusion of the surrounding advertising.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post


I found the Slashdot article predictable and rather useless. One suggestion was to submit a complaint on the web site, which I had done a week or so ago already. I think one of the selling points for Silverlight might have been the fact that the application could be designed to force viewers to watch ads. If a game goes to commercial, the interface is pretty much disabled until the ads are over. You cannot, for instance, switch to a different game while the ads are running. (Someone posted the suggestion that adjusting the audio level gets around this restriction; I haven't tried that yet.) I wonder when we'll start seeing this technology applied to set-top boxes and TV tuners
.

...then why partake in the scheme at all?
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

...then why partake in the scheme at all?

Well said, I haven't owned a TV for the past 9 years and I don't miss it at all, my home theatre is exclusively for playback of media files (sourced from DVDs and from other sources).

I have no interest anymore in watching any professional sports events (which are just a huge money making industry these days, not games as it's supposed to be) and I could never go back to watching movies on TV or TV series with constant ad breaks.
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by tux99 View Post

Well said, I haven't owned a TV for the past 9 years and I don't miss it at all, my home theatre is exclusively for playback of media files (sourced from DVDs and from other sources).

I have no interest anymore in watching any professional sports events (which are just a huge money making industry these days, not games as it's supposed to be) and I could never go back to watching movies on TV or TV series with constant ad breaks.

EXACTLY!

Unbelievable how many gullible people there are- but then again, we're talking about people who make the WWF ("pro" wrestling in the US) a viable business
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'll try not to be too offended by that remark, rgb. I don't think anyone deserves to be called "gullible" because they accept that advertising finances an event like the NCAA tourney. I happen to enjoy college basketball and the tournament in particular. I also happen to live in a capitalist economy where the vast bulk of television programming is financed by advertising. That's been true for my nearly sixty years on this planet and will continue to be true after I'm gone. I suppose you think I should engage in some type of ineffectual boycott of programming I enjoy, but I don't tilt at windmills much any more.

Looks like I won't be posting much more in this forum if it means being called names.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post

I'll try not to be too offended by that remark, rgb. I don't think anyone deserves to be called "gullible" because they accept that advertising finances an event like the NCAA tourney.
Looks like I won't be posting much more in this forum if it means being called names.

I can only speak for myself but I don't think that rgb was intentionally offending you, I guess it's partially my fault as I sort of hi-jacked this thread with my personal rant against TV and professional sports, I apologize for that.

I personally think everyone should do whatever they want, I just expressed my point of view.

But I agree with you, I find 'Microsoft only' websites annoying too (fortunately they are rare these days, compared to, say, 5 years ago), but because of that I would simply boycott them (and if I find the website really useful to be worth the hassle, email them telling them it doesn't work with Linux, they might not even have realised it and maybe they do something about it).
post #13 of 19
OK. I've held my tongue for long enough on this one.

Let me begin by telling you that I know from experience that the entire entertainment industry is comprised 100% of crooks (liars, thieves, rapists, murderers, cannibals) -- tens of thousands of them, few of which are less intelligent than you or I.

As an artist, I also realize that art is communication, and speech should always be free, so there is inherently something wrong with selling it. The fact that we have to pay to listen to a criminal's twisted point of view disgusts me more than words can express.

I can, however, say that I would rather have these abominations of human nature segregated from society and bound by the prison of fame than have them running about loosely throughout the streets. This, of course, requires money.

And, so we must pay for it, and it is expensive.

To rebel against this fact of life would be fatal, and no amount of idealism would be able to overcome it.

Money is a minuscule sacrifice.

/drama
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post

I'll try not to be too offended by that remark, rgb. I don't think anyone deserves to be called "gullible" because they accept that advertising finances an event like the NCAA tourney. I happen to enjoy college basketball and the tournament in particular. I also happen to live in a capitalist economy where the vast bulk of television programming is financed by advertising. That's been true for my nearly sixty years on this planet and will continue to be true after I'm gone. I suppose you think I should engage in some type of ineffectual boycott of programming I enjoy, but I don't tilt at windmills much any more.

Looks like I won't be posting much more in this forum if it means being called names.

I wasn't thinking of anyone in particular with the "gullible" comment- just a continuation of my rhetorical rant. More commentary on the average American consumer. If you post on avsforum, by definition you're "above average"

I agree that ad-supported content is fine- that was the point of my rant- the ads should be fully covering the costs involved. The problem is the ratio of ads to content has been *increasing*, while production costs *decrease*, ad revenue *increases*, all the while cable/sat/ticket prices keep *increasing*. By any logic, cable/sat/ticket prices should be stable or *decreasing*- it is only the corruption within the system (greed, excessive actor/studio/player/owner salaries, etc) creating the imbalance. IF content/sports *were* fully ad supported, cable/sat/ticket prices would be a token amount at best.

But it *is* being gullible (no one in particular) falling for these vendor lock-in tricks like the Silverlight stunts Microsoft has been pulling since the Summer 2008 Olympics.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post

I think one of the selling points for Silverlight might have been the fact that the application could be designed to force viewers to watch ads. If a game goes to commercial, the interface is pretty much disabled until the ads are over. You cannot, for instance, switch to a different game while the ads are running. (Someone posted the suggestion that adjusting the audio level gets around this restriction; I haven't tried that yet.) I wonder when we'll start seeing this technology applied to set-top boxes and TV tuners
.

Excellent summary of the whole point and purpose of Flash and Silverlight based video feeds- to wrest control from us and back to the content owners.

You (anyone reading, no one in particular) won't control your browser/computer any more with these web feeds. Unlike the mpg/avi/rm/qt/wmv feeds of yore, where WE maintained control of the media (pause, restart, save to disk, etc), Flash and Silverlight lets the guys on the other end take control from you. They have the power over you.

Why willingly partake in the ruse? (addressing everyone)
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mythmaster View Post

OK. I've held my tongue for long enough on this one.

Let me begin by telling you that I know from experience that the entire entertainment industry is comprised 100% of crooks (liars, thieves, rapists, murderers, cannibals) -- tens of thousands of them, few of which are less intelligent than you or I.


/drama

...don't be so shy- tell us what you REALLY think

But seriously, at the rate we're going, we'll be the only two left on this forum if we don't contain ourselves
post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

...don't be so shy- tell us what you REALLY think

But seriously, at the rate we're going, we'll be the only two left on this forum if we don't contain ourselves

Don't worry, it's all out of my system now.

I hope we haven't lost SS -- he's a good contributor.
post #18 of 19
lolz
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rgb View Post

Why willingly partake in the ruse? (addressing everyone)

I think it depends on how much people value the content. So there are some shows and programs, that I think are worth the ads, or price... those I'll put up with the ridiculous content. For programs that I like but not enough to deal with the hassle, I won't.

DRM as a concept doesn't bother, it's the implementation that ends up lowering the value of the content to me and makes me less likely to participate. But in general, I don't get overly worked up over it.
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