The App Nightmare Hell That is The CW
The idea of an app is the ability to make something available for you to use or watch under the careful branding of the developer that created an app, or at least that is what I think of when I use an app. Take in this case The CW App. You can get it on your phone or on your Xbox One. The idea is to allow viewers to play catch up on some past episodes, or get more background on the episodes, characters and crew that make a show. All of this happens under the carefully curated view of the people at The CW Network. They are allowing you to see this content with the ads they want you to view, and the content that puts their shows in a good light. In theory, all of this is great. In practice, it leaves a lot to be desired.
My misadventures with The CW Apps actually started off on a good note, as I downloaded The CW App on my Xbox One the day the system launched back in November of 2013. It was a pretty cool app to be certain. It allowed you to view the last five full episodes of any of The CW Network shows, and offered up a lot of behind the scenes videos as well. It required no registration, so if you did not have a cable or other provider subscription, it did not matter. You just had to watch a couple of ads at points in the episodes you were watching. Again, that was fair in my opinion, as they were giving you all the content for free without purchase.
And then a curious thing happened – several months into the app being live on Xbox One, the ability to watch full episodes disappeared for most of their shows. The only shows left on the app that you could watch in full came from The CW Seed, an Internet streamed service that was about curating content that would not have a mainstream audience on their main network. So no more Flash, Arrow or Jane the Virgin for me. Instead, it was Vixen and other properties that I had limited interest in, making the app pretty much useless at that point. Now, I had to go back to setting DVR points for shows and dealing with that whole mess instead of watching these shows in a properly curated environment that worked so well for so long. Enter the second nightmare that is The CW App on my iPhone.
I decided before this current season of shows that was coming in the Fall of 2015, that I would download the CW App on my iPhone to keep in touch on shows that I wanted to watch. Again, it would work perfectly during my hour lunch at work. I could watch a show a day and it would keep me up to date with all my shows. A perfect match to be certain.
All of those hopes went out the window when I actually went and used the app. The CW App is nicely designed for certain, and offers up full episodes and more. Sadly, actually trying to play any of these episodes seems to end in some form of misery. Now, I have an unlimited data plan from my service provider, Verizon, and because it is attached to a corporate account, it does not have throttled data. And I have tested the bandwidth several times showing my connection at about 20Mbps right before and after using the app. And yet The CW App seems to bomb routinely. Mostly during the delivery of advertisements at breakpoints in the shows. Over the past two days and two hours worth of my lunch time, I have watched about 23 minutes and 42 seconds of one episode of The Flash. I should have finished two episodes at this point, but the app routinely has server connection errors, sits on a loading screen when trying to put an advertisement and at least over a dozen times, restarted the episode from the beginning, And if the episode restarts from the beginning and I try to skip to where I was in the show, I once again am greeted with the app trying desperately to pull an advertisement.
This is not the way digital media is supposed to work. Netflix works fine. HBO Go works fine. Same for Amazon Instant Video, FoxNOW, Max Go, Showtime Anywhere and more. It is only The CW App that routinely stops, drops and convulses in a full spasm of failure. And it is irritating because it basically makes me just not want to deal with any of their content at all because of all of these errors and failures. I am dedicated my free time to use their app and watch their ads to view this content and it seems they don’t want me or anyone else to do that.
And this is not me complaining about the advertisements per se, as I have no issues with a company requiring me to watch some advertisements in return for watching their content for free via their apps. But it just seems that the way they are implementing the ads is killing the usefulness of their app. Making me not want to use their content and get it through other means seems to defeat the purpose of creating a highly curated content mechanism to do just that – watch their content under their controls. If you are going to want me to go to your app and watch your content, don’t make it a chore to do so. Make an app that works with a delivery system that doesn’t shit the bed anytime someone uses it. You have some quality shows CW Network, now just figure out a way to make the experience work on your mobile app. And bring back full episodes to the CW App on the Xbox One. I really loved that approach and I could watch them on my nice big screen LED TV at home on my comfy sofa.