Open Source Reporting::Which Online Video Services Require IE?

    by Mark Glaser
    March 6, 2006

    i-5fb10ef6b1ee115bfccec9d97ac5cab2-Internet Explorer logo.JPG
    Last Thursday, I wondered why the Associated Press was launching a new video network online that required the use of the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. The AP’s Sue Cross says that the news cooperative is working on a solution to the compatibility problem, but many readers pointed out that the AP Online Video Network isn’t the only video service limiting its reach by requiring the IE browser.

    So I started to investigate this further, and have compiled a list of various video services online that also limit their reach by requiring the use of the IE browser. In most cases, this also means that people with Macintosh computers can’t access the video as well, though it varies from service to service.

    Why does this matter? The online world has long battled over which platform will dominate, whether it’s for browsers (Microsoft vs. Netscape vs. Firefox) or for streaming video (RealPlayer vs. Windows Media Player). While some technologies such as Adobe Acrobat and Java promise interoperability on multiple platforms, it’s difficult for site operators to satisfy all the people all the time. However, with the relative comeback of the Macintosh, and the rise of the Firefox browser and Linux operating system, content publishers need to pay attention to what their users want or face the prospect of alienating them.


    So I’ve compiled a list of online video services that require Internet Explorer or shut out Macs altogether. Please send along sites that have frustrated you with similar requirements, and I’ll add them to the list with a credit to you. Just tell us about the sites in the comments below, or use the MediaShift Feedback form to let me know. I’ll also consider sites with audio feeds that require IE or Windows Media Player. Or conversely, if there are sites that don’t work with Internet Explorer, I’ll list those as well.

    I will try to update this list frequently, so if sites fix incompatiblity problems, I’ll remove them.

    Video Services That Require Internet Explorer or Windows


    Akimbo — Video-on-demand service only works with Media Center PCs with Windows XP.

    AP Online Video Network — Video network for Associated Press requires Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

    Arcor Video-on-Demand — German video service requires Windows operating system, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. (Thanks to Bertram at Gugel Productions.)

    Bravo’s Project Runway — Exclusive online video that requires Internet Explorer and the Windows operating system. (Thanks to Rick Callahan of Laguna Beach, Calif.)

    CinemaNow — Movie download service requires Internet Explorer, Windows operating system (must be Windows 2000 or higher) and Windows Media Player. (Thanks to Diane Werts at Newsday.)

    Comedy Central Motherlode — Requires Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player; will work with Firefox but a plug-in is needed.

    In2TV — Beta test of AOL video service requires Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10. Will work with Firefox but not on Macs. (Thanks to Diane Werts.)

    LaunchCast on Yahoo — Online music service requires Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player on a PC, and Netscape Navigator and Windows Media Player on a Mac. Firefox users are out of luck. (Thanks to Julie.)

    Movielink — Movie-downloading service requires Internet Explorer and a PC with the Windows operating system. UPDATE: As of last May, Movielink stopped supporting Windows 98 and Windows ME and now requires Windows 2000 or XP, and doesn’t support Macs or Linux. (Thanks to Diane Werts.)

    MSN VideoMSN and MSNBC video hubs require Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

    MTV Overdrive — Requires Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and a computer with the Windows operating system.

    NBC.com Video — Doesn’t work on my PC with Firefox, and looks like it requires Windows Media Player. No requirements or FAQ on site. (Thanks to William, who runs the When Is Law & Order On? site.)

    Peer Impact — Legal peer-to-peer trading network only works with Windows operating system, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. (Thanks to Robert Nelson.)

    T-Mobile Video-on-Demand in Germany — Requires the Windows operating system, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. (Thanks to Bertram at Gugel Productions.)

    TurboNick — Requires a PC with Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and the Windows operating system.

    VH1 VSpot — Requires Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player; will work with Firefox but a plug-in is needed.

    Vongo — Movie-download service requires a PC with Windows, but will work with Firefox browser. Not for Macs. (See below for an update with a comment from a Vongo executive.)


    Some people singled out XM Radio’s online audio player as requiring Internet Explorer. While that used to be the case, XM now allows you to listen with a Macintosh, and does support Firefox, according to a new FAQ on its website. However, one XM fan was non-plussed by the satellite radio service’s lack of customer service response on this issue.

    Let us know your experiences and I’ll include them in future updates of this post.

    UPDATE: Eric Becker, executive director of corporate communications for Starz Entertainment Group, wrote to me via email about Vongo’s restriction to Windows platforms. He said that the dynamics for Vongo might be a bit different than for other content providers online.

    “We would love to be on the Mac platform,” Becker said. “In fact, the Vongo client is engineered to run on Macs beautifully. It’s more of a question of business philosopohy from Steve Jobs than it is anything else, as the Apple business model (and thus its DRM [digital rights management]) only supports transactions (a la iTunes) and Vongo is primarily a subscription movie service.

    “We have made no secret our desire to distribute the subscription movies download experience of Vongo on the Mac and in a sense the ball is in their court at this time. We hope that Apple recognizes the intrinsic advantages of subscription business models in the realm of long-form video entertainment and at the very least looks to make this an option in the future.”

    So it’s not just Microsoft pushing its platforms onto content providers, but Apple trying to keep control of video and audio content as well.

    UPDATE 2: I’ve started another Open Source Reporting list, this time a “whitelist” of online video services that will work cross-platform with Windows, IE, Firefox and on a Mac. Check out the list and let me know of your favorite cross-platform video sites.

    • Comedy Central Motherload doesn’t work with Firefox 1.5. I assume they check for 1.0. Also, I have never been able to get the NBC.com videos to work.

    • Peer Impact
      I read about it in this weeks I,Cringley article.P2P network(all legal and DRM’d).Windows only.

    • Dan

      I work for Microsoft – as a Flash developer. It frakking pisses me off (can I say “frakking?”) that any websites use WMV. Flash video is far superior with it’s combination of cross platform compatability and usability. When I come to a site that uses WMV not only do I not watch the video I don’t ever come back to the site.

      Look at what Google used for their video. Do you think they really wanted to use Flash? I’ll bet they would have loved to come up with some open source solution but in the end they went with Flash. That speaks volumes of how good a choice it is.

    • T-Onlinevision and Arcor Video on Demand both based in Germany require Windows Media Player, Windows and Internet Exlorer. So no legal video on demand for Mac users in Germany.

    • Julie

      I’m not sure how it works for Mac or Linux, but the LAUNCHcast player, a Yahoo! radio service, shuts out both Netscape and Firefox users on a Windows PC.

    • Charles Clark

      I appreciate your efforts in this respect as I use the FIREFOX on my MACINTOSH. Keep at them as NPR is about the only source without a heavy dose of propaganda.

    • Bravo TV Network
      Video viewing “Requires IE 5.5 or higher on Windows OS”

      Open letter to Andy Cohen, Bravo’s Vice President of Production and Programming:


      We’re down to the “14 Days of Finale” and your IT / corporate brilliance has decided to drop the podcasts (which BTW, where universally accessible) in favor of win-doz only video… ? Forget the Mac audience?

      I would expect the demographics of Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser to be PC (and that’s not for politically correct), but Project Runway…? Come on. Your audience definitely skews creative, innovative and design-oriented… oh right, that’s not the Mac demographic. We may be 5% of the computer market but I bet we are close to 30% of YOUR audience and we are notorious evangilists.

      I may not be a marketing genius but I know enough not to thumb my nose at the core of my market. Hey, are you the same guys that sold our ports to the Dubai government… ?


      – disappointed fan

    • I’m not convinced that controlling the user’s experience with a custom (and sometimes incompatible) video player is the best way to go for content distribution. Why not make it as easy to consume as possible in as many formats as possible?

      That’s the approach we’re taking by providing our video content in 1080p, 720p, and 480p HD along with iPod video, MP3, AAC formats for now and likely more on the way in the future. Of course, it’s tougher to control advertising if you don’t control the player, but that will be solved.

      Not controlling the player also gives you more flexibility on distribution.

    • Daniel

      I’ve had a lot of trouble using Yahoo! on my Mac.

      For one, Yahoo! Video is completely, utterly incompatible with Mac, regardless of browser. Same goes for Yahoo! Music. The web-based email works, although all other related tools don’t. The Yahoo! Browser, again, Windows only.

      They supposedly support Mac, but they don’t show it. They supposedly have some Real Player content, but I have yet to find it.

      What is with that?!

    • Just wanted to say thank you for linking to my post @ my site (xmrocks.us) regarding XM Radio’s downfalls and the Mac-platform. XM still refuses to acknowledge the fact that their site locks out Mac users from the “Account Management” section. Truly a shame.


    • Peter

      Maybe things have changed, but AP seems to work perfectly with a Mac now.

    • Matt

      CNN used to work with Firefox (although it was glitchy, and depended on which machine I was using). As of last week, I can’t view any video on CNN without using IE. I refuse to use IE (too many exploits out there). So, I guess I don’t use CNN anymore.

    • Lynette

      30minutemall.com or grocerynow.com is configured only to work with IE on PC’s leaving every mac user out there frustrated because they cannot use their services. I sent an email to both the owner and regional management letting them know that the $6000-$10,000 I spend per year in groceries could be spent with them if they could get it operable with mac users, but they have never responded to any of the several messages I’ve sent. Imagine if they lose 20 clients a month just because of this issue? The potential for lost revenue is huge. They spent several thousand dollars in advertising in Indianapolis but I guarantee the return hasn’t been what they thought it would merely because of this. I’d love to see if someone else can get something out of them.

    • P

      It is important to teach those ‘that know not what they do’ what to do

      don’t use their sites and tell people why

      eventually the jerks that thought proprietary code was going to make them gazillionaires overnight will learn from the sound of crickets coming from their site that cross-browser sites are the way of the future

      all you advertisers out there… be smart and only spend money on user friendly sites

      spread the word

    • Josef Meshorer

      Polish commercial TV station TVN24 for audio streaming requires a fee, if to listen outside of Poland (this is OK) and Windows OS, IE (not Firefox) and Windows Media Player only.

  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »
    MediaShift Newsletters »

    Follow us on Social Media