Why fragmentation ruins the TV streaming experience

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 24, 2015
Updated • Oct 24, 2015
Music and Video

For a brief moment, a couple of years ago, it seemed as if established media companies understood the Internet for the first time.

Customers had been battling with companies over restrictions, availability and price of media they consumed for years.

This was especially apparent in the music streaming sector. Programs like Napster showed what the Internet was capable of but instead of embracing this new world of possibilities, companies began to fight it.

Pandora, an Internet radio service had to block users from most countries in the world from accessing its service, and some companies went to great length to ensure that their music was not copied by their customers (Sony and the infamous rootkit).

Then came the first subscription-based services and while you had to pay for access to the whole catalog, they offered content from all big labels with a few notable exception.

While geo-blocking is still an issue today, most music streaming catalogs are well filled and provide access to the majority of "mainstream" music.

The chance was there for TV to make the same transition, from costly cable network subscriptions to cheaper, always available TV content on the Internet.

Netflix came and it looked as if it could be the service everyone waited for. Sure, it was geo-locked as well and did not offer all TV content yet, but it seemed only a matter of time until it did.

Then came other services, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, as well as network or company specific streaming offers such as HBO Go, WWE Network or Fox on Demand. And more are about to launch subscription services including Disney or YouTube. And those are only what is being offered in the US.

Suddenly, you were in a position were you could not just launch one service to watch whatever you wanted to watch. You had to compare offerings, see which service got the rights to a TV show or movie you were interested in, and consider subscribing to that service.

Instead of competing on the service level, by offering the best possible product to users, services focus on exclusive content instead to attract customers.

In the current situation, you either limit yourself in regards to what you have access to in terms of content, or subscribe to multiple services instead which inflates what you pay per month for these services.

The free Popcorn Time application showed how things could have been much like Napster did for music. One application that provides access to all the TV and Film content you could ever imagine.

Would users pay for such an offering? Many would certainly and while there will always be some who don't, such an offering would certainly become popular quickly.

Netflix and Amazon are pushing self-produced TV shows, and one of the main reasons why these companies do so is the fragmentation. They may lose access to content in the future that they have licensed, or may not get content at all if companies decide to broker exclusive deals with other streaming services or make it available on their own.

Where does it leave the consumer? In a bad spot. Programs like Popcorn Time show how things could be, but they are not legal to use in most countries, and the chance of  a legal service popping up that is providing access to all TV content seems to get slimmer by the week.

Now You: Do you watch TV online?

Why fragmentation ruins the TV streaming experience
Article Name
Why fragmentation ruins the TV streaming experience
Fragmentation is bad for users who subscribe to online TV streaming services, and the situation seems to get worse not better.

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  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source – WorthyTricks.co.cc

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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