Dear ITV. Why Is The ITVPlayer So Terrible?

May 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

When ITV announced plans to start charging people for specific online content last year, there were a few eyebrows raised in the OTB office. Whether you enjoy the channel’s programming or not, the idea was made laughable by the fact that the ITVPlayer is easily the poorest of all the ‘players’. As such, the idea of paying for it was about as enticing as the idea of forking out to use one of those unspeakably grotty public toilets in Kings Cross train station.

Adam Crozier and his cronies (crozies?) have quietly put the aforementioned plan on hold, but they don’t seem to have done much to improve the quality of their online viewing portal, which sadly, is still rubbish. The excessive adverts (far more than you find on 4OD) don’t help but what really grinds our gears is the way the content stops, starts and spends ages buffering. The image quality isn’t great either. Why ITV don’t pull their fingers out and improve their service is a bit of a mystery, because with more and more people watching their TV online, they’re lagging behind the competition.

One of the various complaints that many people have for the ITVPlayer is that it often resets itself, forcing users to sit through the same adverts time after time, others say the audio is often out of sync and some reckon the platform gets stuck sometimes and simply repeat the same scenes over and over again.. although they might just have been watching Britain’s Got Talent.

We called up ITV to ask them about the problem and they refused to comment on the crapness of their interweb monstrosity, but crucially, didn’t actually refute our allegations. We then considered putting together an in-depth analysis of the software, but our computer skills are worse than your average IT worker’s people skills, so that idea was also a non-starter. All that’s left is to advise anyone struggling with the system to use the the Scottish version instead. Apparently it’s much better..

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Harry says:

I have just checked out the Scottish ITV player, the website looks really good and sleek and reliable – although not tried watching any programmes on it yet. I will do in the future though instead of the ITV Player.

Just use a Scottish post code and you can get past the location boundaries. For example EH7 6EZ. And maybe deny sharing your location if there is an option.

Kay says:

As for watching any itv shows via the much better Scottish itv player: this is now blocked outside of Scotland!!!!!!!! @ total ***** itv !!!!!!!

steve collins says:

Haha I have the Samsung ue40d675 with smartub and Itv player has stoppd working after a smarthub update and firmware update last week, also when using bbc iplayer you cannot change the volume once the program is playing. Not impressed had to downgrade firmware to fix iplayer but still no itv player

alison bark says:

itv player also takes a ridiculous amount of time to make a UK programme available compared to stv player but that is infuriatingly no longer available outside Scotland or even in the Scottish Borders

Alan Reilly says:

Bought a new Samsung Smart TV on Boxing day, found that Samsung kept updating their software over the internet eventually this was sorted by 14th January.

All the Samsung Apps for BBC IPlayer, Youtube, Muzu TV are top notch. These are not affected by my TalkTalk broadband speed any time of day or night.

ITV player though is appalling, if using a Smart TV, there won’t be any other processes running in the background like on a PC or laptop.

CONCLUSION It IS the ITV player, they should be downright ashamed of themselves, I reiterate all the comments here, It is frustratingly unwatchable yet miraculously the ads DO run perfectly!

Babs says:

Neither site is any use for watching something that cannot be downloaded. Everything buffers every couple of minutes due to the slow speeds provided by BT and the lack of an upgrade to the exchange for at couple more years. Maybe you should think of that when not allowing downloads!

Itv player is perfect perfect rubbish

PD says:

I read the dev’s comments. They were considered but flawed. The idea that the app is ok so long as its not running in concert with other apps is a little odd when you compare it to bbci or, Netflix, or other similar apps such as HBOGo ( a US service ). The app is not the only reason I suspect. The backend service is also partially to blame here. I have been involved with the dev of similar apps (one of the above), and the ITV player is unpredictable. Not awful, simply unpredictable and as such mostly unusable.

Patrick Devaney says:

Why is some content available through my pc, but not through my iPad or tv- neither “Vampire Diaries” or “Island Hospital” are available on my tv or iPad – it’s just X factor, More X Factor and bloody more X Factor,,,,

Barry says:

I have just spent a half hour watching the last 6 minutes of a program, buffering every couple of seconds, the 7 ad’s before the program played flawlessly, what a joke itv player is.

tant says:

ITV player on my phone is a joke.the phone loads the player but the picture size is ridiculous. It doesn’t fill. my screen. and. when I turn my. Phone it stopped playing. It’s always been like this .!!!

Robert says:

Recently my Samsung TV updated itself to include ITVPlayer. The very same problems manifest themselves. Buffering issues. Looping issues. Advert issues. Blank screen issues. Sound quality issues. Jamming issues.

In contrast BBC’s IPlayer – also on the same Samsung TV, works 100%.

My advice to anyone thinking of using a Smart TV with an ITVPlayer app built in is: seriously, avoid. You’ll end up tearing your hair out. It really is as bad as the Commenters here suggest.

Chris says:

I love that excuse about apps being the cause of stream lag and player freeze…STOP using it as I dont have any and its still impossible to view, It seems to me that the providers are in some kind of agreement with other companies to persuade you to upgrade to higher speeds, thinking that will solve the problem, I was with Virgin for two yrs where I could stream HD TV wireless from across the street perfect, now two yrs later a new address and provider (Talk Talk) I cant stream TV with no other pages open the comp running at bare minimum

bridget says:

ive stopped using the itv player i try to watch shows like x factor but get buffering every few mins sometimes seconds just cant bear it anymore its too frustrating .i dont have this problem with bbci player or 4od and yes i have closedf all programs then tried to watch it and it still doesnt work if enough people highlight these issues hopefully it will be resolved.

Kat says:

Are ITV considering upgrading the itvplayer programme to allow the downloading of programmes for a specified period of time, something which the bbciplayer has introduced. This would be a great improvement to the current itvplayer service which quite frankly is appalling!

Kat says:

Is there any possibility that itvplayer will go down the route of bbciplayer and allow programmes to be downloaded and then stored on devices for a specified period of time, thereby avoiding the buffering issues when watching programmes? This provision of bbciplayer makes it a much better service than itvplayer

lars says:

Tell me about it! Considering how awful ITV Player is, there seem to be few people talking about it online. I am hooked on The Saint and the only place i can watch it is on the Player. I can normally just about cope with the slow buffering, odd cuts into adverts and whole endings of shows being cut off completely, but when it comes to adverts, especially adverts getting stuck on play, i am tearing my hair out. I have just sat through 2 of 2 adverts, followed by 4 of 4 adverts, followed by 4 of 4 adverts… then I’ve refreshed, resumed, but then that stars another 20 million adverts. I can’t watch the freaking television program!!!!!! Is there even a program there or was it a trap to lure me into being brainwashed by adverts? ITV you are huge embarrassing failures. Fix it or don’t bother having the Player.

ray says:

The ITV player freezes and buffers only because too many applications may be running on your computer or laptop iPad at the same time.Try removing the apps that are already running like google etc and then try watching.You should not encounter any problems.

OntheBox says:


Thanks for taking the time to write such a considered response. I’m sure our readers will appreciate hearing from someone close to the project. Hopefully your colleagues can sort these problems out!


DG says:


As one of the permanent Flash developers working on the core ITVPlayer – Adobe Flash Player only – which now supports Web, Mobile (Android) and Internet Enabled TVs (Samsung) from one codebase. I have to agree that I am aware of the issues users have experienced. It is at times extremely frustrating (especially for example, if an Ad Server returns multiple copies of the same advert for every advert break – In fact it’s a bit soul destroying.) However as a team, we do not have control over all aspects of the service. In respect of those areas that we do, we are consistently expanding the features and improving the robustness of the player. As users of the service we always try to highlight the problems beyond our control and work towards solutions for the greater good. All of the teams involved work extremely hard, it’s not always easy to get the solutions we would like or need in the short term but we remain committed.

As a developer, constructive criticism is always appreciated.

al says:

I gave up trying to watch anything on ITV Player online ages ago. There are applications that do a very good job of downloading streamed content from all the catch-up sites for viewing at your convenience, on PC or TV.

beemoh says:

Anyone used the app versions? Are they less hopeless?