Viewing Flash Content on IrokoTV on my tablet

Yesterday, I wanted to watch a movie on IrokoTV, a service that makes available online thousands of Nollywood and Ghanaian movies. I found that the service requires Flash. Of course, it works well on PC, but when I attempted to view a movie on mobile, I ran into problems.

BlackBerry PlayBook
The PlayBook has both HTML5 and Flash support, so I was expecting no issues. However, on attempting to load the movie, I ran into the following message:
IrokoTV on Blackberry PlayBook - irokotv com

“Content not available: this video is not authorized for playback on this device”.

I’m not sure what to make of that. Do webmasters still deliberately impose restrictions on devices? I am not sure that this is a problem from the Playbook’s browser, as I have never had issues watching videos from Youtube, Vimeo and other services on it.

So, I put down the PlayBook and picked up the Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Google Nexus 7
The built-in browser on Nexus 7 is Chrome. The Nexus 7 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which Adobe has announced will not get official support for Flash. Trying to load a movie on IrokoTV gave me a black page with the error:
IrokoTV on Android Chrome

“The Adobe Flash Player is required to view this content. Please click here to install it.”

Well, clicking the link launched Google Play Store and loaded the Adobe Flash Player 11 page, with yet another error “Your device isn’t compatible with this version“.
FlashPlayer not compatible

Sigh. I had two up-to-date tablets from two different platforms and couldn’t watch a movie. A colleague who owns an iPad2 tells me that she watches IrokoTV on Safari on her iPad. That is surprising, but it is good news. The iPad still rules the tablet market, and it means that a huge number of tablet users will run into no issues with the IrokoTV service.

Yes; I know that there are third party browsers with support for Flash. I did later install Dolphin Browser beta for Android to see the movie and the service worked well with that. My fear is that average users are not likely to go in search of a third party browser. They will more likely try it on the built-in browser, run into these issues and conclude that the service does not work. Hopefully, IrokoTV can address these issues if they are things within their jurisdiction.

Yes; the issues that I ran into may not be IrokoTV’s fault, after all, we all know what a mess the mobile web can be. In which case, we must hope that mobile web browser developers hurry up to clean up the mess and streamline things.

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7 comments

  1. The fault is partly theirs. Youtube has been slowly replacing its Flash Based Player with one built using HTML5 technologies. The same goes for a lot of other video streaming sites. Everyone agrees that HTML5 is the future of the web and that future is ever coming closer. Flash is dead on mobile and would soon be dead on the Desktop too (its dead on Desktop Linux already). Even Adobe, the owners of Flash, have now shifted focus to HTML5 creativity apps, so websites should get with the times.
    There are a few issues that still need sorting out though, as regards HTML5 video. For instance, there is no video codec supported by all modern browsers. Firefox only supports FOSS codecs, hence Ogg Theora and Google’s VP8 codecs, both of which Google Chrome also supports. Safari and Internet Explorer however, only support H.264 codec out of the box. This makes it bit tricky for Web developers to create sites utilizing the HTML5 video tag that would be playable on modern versions of all major browsers. VP8 codec (also known as WebM) has a real chance of being this one universal codec, since its Opensource, if Apple and Microsoft can pull the stick out of their arse and implement it.

  2. I can’t get my head around the fact that so many services and website haven’t upgraded to HTML5 yet. It seems like they either are not in touch with current developments in the market (which of course can’t be the case) or they are totally oblivious to the fact that people will switch to the competition if they don’t get their act together. This is especially true for commercial services, since they are practically cutting out a growing slice of market. I’m looking forward to the day where HTML5 will be the standard, which will be hopefully soon.

  3. I don’t know what constitutes the “average” user, but if they’ve done their research (and not doing follow follow), they would know that there’s no Adobe Flash support on the Nexus 7. If they wanna watch anything with Flash, they’ll have to find a workaround. If in doubt, the XDA Developers website is your friend 🙂

    They’ll either do what I did, which is download the Flash .apk and install it and use a suitable browser (won’t work with Chrome), or they will download a browser that supports HTML5 and hope that works (spoiler alert: you’ll end up with more than one browser).

    1. Noni,

      I don’t know what constitutes the “average” user, but if they’ve done their research (and not doing follow follow), they would know that there’s no Adobe Flash support on the Nexus 7.

      That “follow, follow” that you mentioned is the key characteristic of the “average” user.

  4. Mr Mobility, I hope you realise your “average” may be reflective of a certain group/type of people. I don’t consider that average at all, more naivety (and I’m being polite!)

    I don’t expect people to know the difference between Flash and HTML let alone HTML5, but any sensible right thinking “average” user buying a tablet should have some idea why they’re buying it and what they want to do with it. Those follow follow people (who are usually lazy, can’t be bothered but would insist they are intelligent) who want to watch films on a tablet? I’d direct them to an iPad. Or they have friends like you to help them when they start insulting the device cos it doesn’t do what they want it to 🙂

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