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New Home Page, Smooth Streaming added to Channel 9 today

Hey folks, we deployed an update to Channel 9 today, bringing us two major changes:

First, we have moved to a new video player, which has enabled us to start publishing our content using Silverlight Smooth Streaming.

You’ll see more and more video encoded using this format as new content is run through the site, but for now you can check out the latest Hot Apps post for an example. Smooth Streaming not your cup of tea? You can jump into your profile and set your ‘Video Playback Preference’ to be either

  • Auto (the default, we fall back through Smooth Streaming to Progressive and finally to HTML 5, all depending on the content we have and the browser you are running),
  • Smooth Streaming (which is essentially the same as the default at this time),
  • Progressive (same new player, but the buffer-and-play style of video that we’ve been using on Channel 9 for the past few years) or
  • HTML 5 (which forces a HTML 5 player even if you have Silverlight installed)

Second, we revamped the home page featured content area. The old style had some discoverability issues, it was hard to know what to click to go to the full view of a specific video and unless you hovered you didn’t get any of the description of the video (which can be really important to determine if you’d like to watch the video or not). Our new rotator is the result of working to solve both those issues and we hope you like it!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to post feedback about these changes right here in the comments.


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  • AlbinAlbin

    The skip 5 seconds back button has come to channel9. Hooray!

  • HA! Watching Laura in slow motion is just wrong Smiley

    These seem like logical changes, we'll see how it turns out.

  • Greg Braygbrayut Check out PhraseMeme Scanner for Windows Phone at ​PhraseMeme.​com

    Silverlight Smooth, slowmo and replay are awesome! Now if only the player would save the audio volume setting for the slider :-/

    Keep up the great work!


  • The skip 5 seconds back button i really like but where is the skip 5 seconds forward button ??! @Charles, what was the reason for implementing the slowmotion feature ? Ok, that was the good stuff now the bad: 1. That animation thing (fade in/out) is still annoying ! Can you add the option to disable it so the controls appear without animation, please ? 2. The controls still cover the lower part of the video which is annoying, fixing the fade in/out issue might fix or make this less of a problem. 3. HTML5 video player well i'm not sure if it's my browser or if it's on your side but i sucks. No fullscreen support. 4. ...Lets wait and see if you can fix the above issues first shall we....
  • For some reason when it goes up to 4 lines of quality it doesn't look quite as crisp as if I play the high quality .WMV. At least I THINK it does.

    I'm guessing the high quality smoothstreaming Silverlight videos are a tiny bit more compressed.

  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    @Mr Crash: The HTML 5 player is whatever is built into the browser, and full screen is not a feature of every browser's html 5 player.

    As far as the controls at the bottom animating and showing over the video, I'm sorry you find that annoying, but we added that specifically to the SMF player so that we didn't have to make the video player taller than the video stream and so that the controls would go away when you just wanted to watch the video and not make any changes using the controls.

  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    @dentaku: That's possible, it is a compressed version from the source (the high quality *is* the source file, just renamed and uploaded), so even with exactly the same quality settings you'd see some degredation. Also the HQ WMV can be as large as 6Mbps, and our top smooth streaming file is around 3Mbps

  • unfortunately, i liked the previous design because I could see all the main topics and stories at a glance.

    The new design seems a step backward wrt design principles, where you are kind of hiding info. and wasting the user's time to click or wait for the timer to cycle through stories.

    Discoverability is an issue but I'm guessing that your primary user comes directly to the website rather than search for topics and come here.

  • Allon GuralnekAllon Guralnek

    I don't think smooth streaming lends itself very well to most of the content on Channel 9. I'd rather have the video stop and buffer than have it drop to a lower-resolution, higher-compression, fuzzy-blurry version where I can barley read the text of the screencast or on the whiteboard. Good thing it's configurable.
    Nevertheless, (optional/configurable) new features are always welcome. Keep up the good work!

  • JesperJesper

    Finally, we have proper streaming of channel 9. It would be nice though if the progress/location bar in the player was a bit wider.

  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    @Jesper: definitely agree, we'll probably make some changes to the skin to increase the size of the timeline. Removing the slow-motion button would probably be the easiest, and I doubt it is all the useful for our content Smiley


  • Zian Choyzian Exploding heads since 1988

    @Allon Guralnek: Not all of the C9 videos require being able to clearly see fine details.

    If I could toggle between IIS Smooth Streaming and old-style buffering on the video's page, that would be nice.

  • @Duncanma: ah i suspected it was the browser, thanks for verifying it.

    About the controls: You misunderstand, It's the fade in/out animation part that is bugging me.I would be nice to have an option to turn it off.So when you move the mouse to where the controls are instead of a fade in animation the control would just popup / appear and when you move the mouse away from the controls it disappears.

    That fade in / out animation blocks a part of the screen for a period of time, what if it was subtitles on the video then you would miss a part of them while that fade in/out thing is running and have to rewind and due to the fade in/out thing you have to rewind some extra seconds to compensate for it.

    Media player classic homecinema does it like that.

    ( That fade in/out thing is just noice, bling that only wastes cpu cylces and kills the planet. ) 
    BTW: the reply button have stopped working.


  • wow this site is getting buggy, took me 4 edit retries until the formatting wanted to stick The site is probably using WPF with C#, *cough* WPF killed vs2010 *cough*

  • I dont think smith streaming is good for channel9. If people are willing to have lower quality video they could always click on the low quality video. Blury video not good in a website which is designed to be educational
  • William Staceystaceyw Before C# there was darkness...

    @PriMinister. Huh? The point of SS is "highest" quality possible on your connection and client - not lowest. SS is best.  Your player is in control of the stream. Way it should have been done from beginning. But have it now. Smiley  Sure there may be some edges to polish as users hit them.

  • I can see how Smooth Streaming can be annoying for people with slow connections if the video contains text but it's great for us with fast connections.

  • I can see why smooth streaming looks good on paper and why it's a logical choice, however, the reality for some of us is very different.

    I have a very good connection (100 MBit/s down stream) with speeds ~20 MBit/s in practice. That's still very fast (2-3 MB/s). However, smooth streaming is not very optimistic or it's getting too little bandwidth from elsewhere because the result is very different from what I expect.

    Very often, it's drops all the way down to the lowest possible bandwidth profile, and when it does, it's no longer possible to see anything. I don't get why it's being considered at all, as when it drops that low, it's no longer possible to distinguish text on screen and a lot of Channel 9 videos contain text!

    I have good reasons to not like smooth streaming and there's nothing smooth about it. It's rugged and often preforming significantly worse. Why is that?

    I'm located in Sweden, Stockholm. If you have any content edge servers there, please push content world wide!


  • Duncan MackenzieDuncanma "yeah that's awful close, but that's not why I'm so hard done by"

    @leidegre:I believe we do have edge servers near you, but have you tried just setting your profile to always provide the progressive version?

  • smooth streaming looks good!    

  • Greg Braygbrayut Check out PhraseMeme Scanner for Windows Phone at ​PhraseMeme.​com

    Stop the press... the player saves the volume setting now!!! Freaking sweet! I swear it wasn't doing that 12 days ago, so whoever fixed that is my hero Tongue Out Thank!


  • PatPat

    Please go back to regular programing. You just keep running the same things over and over.

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