March 16, 2011

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Heavy Demand Crashed Our iPad App Last Night: It’s Not A Good Party Unless You Run Out Of Beer

We were pretty sure that our iPad app was going to be fairly popular, but we had no idea that it was going to be the most downloaded app in the iTunes store yesterday. The demand was overwhelming, in more ways than one. At about 8 o’clock last night the app crashed under a much heavier load than we anticipated. Our engineering team is working as hard as they can to put a fix in place and get everything up and running as soon as they can.

For the time being, the app is running with only 15 channels. We have found that by temporarily reducing the number of available channels, we can ease strain on the authentication process. This will enable us to offer at least some sort of an experience to our customers while we get a fix in place. We’ll add the other 17 channels back in as soon as we can fix the underlying issue, and we’ll be adding more channels in future iterations of the app as well.

On the one hand, this is a nice problem for us to have — it’s great to see that our customers are excited about this, and we’re thrilled to know that our vision of TV’s future is one that the public wants. In other words, it’s not a good party unless you run out of beer.

On the other hand, this is really frustrating for us and our customers, too. And we’re really sorry for the inconvenience. We know how frustrating it can be when a brand-new product doesn’t work well. Please bear in mind that this our first foray into the iPad app world, and the first cable company to offer live streaming to the iPad at all. We’re going to figure out a fix and implement it as soon as we possibly can.

We appreciate your patience and understanding, and again, we’re sorry for any frustration.

+- 27 Comments

  1. Dante's reply

    Glad to see that you’re fixing it.

    Dish actually uses the Sling player technology to stream to the iPad, including shows viewers have recorded on their dvr’s. And they’re not limited to use over one ISP.

  2. UGotta B Kidding's reply

    Dear TWC – Releasing an app that doesn’t work, crash users’ devices, hangs, and otherwise wastes your customers’ time is not a “nice problem to have”.

    You were surprised demand would be high for an iPad add that lets people watch cable TV?

    Really?

  3. smetros's reply

    I appreciate knowing it was an issue on your side, not mine. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  4. Kyle Reilly's reply

    Thanks for keeping us updated on the status! The Application is a fantastic addition to the product line to help fulfill the Time Warner Cable Mission & Values and give customers choices for watching TV on their own terms. I love this innovation!

  5. Frustrated and Sad's reply

    It’s 11:38am on Wednesday. I’m still unable to use the app at all. I launch it, and the instant the opening logo screen changes to the channel listing the app crashes. I’ve tried at least a hundred times. So, apparently decreasing the number of channels available hasn’t done anything to help us be able to have ‘some sort of experience.’ I’m not just NOT having an experience, I’m having a bad one because I have an app that promises to function one way, but in fact doesn’t function at all. I had high hopes too. :(

  6. Justin's reply

    Whatever.

    Hi guys, Congrats on a cool app! when i was able to get in and check it out last night, it was pretty fun and zippy. Well played with your witty “it’s not a party unless you run out of beer” post. With whatever problems that happened i’m just glad its out here for me to use. Looking forward to future updates to this app!

    TWC customer, NY, NY

  7. Tantrum's reply

    You really need to talk to IT about cloud computing and elastic server capacity. A company like Amazon or Hewlett-Packard could fix your problem for next to nothing. Happy customer = Good company reputation. Stop being so old school and get with the 21st century.

  8. Tough Break's reply

    While it’s absolutely infuriating for it not to work after download, I appreciate the apology. Not a bad post, just written in the wrong order.
    Next time you might lead with the apology, unless this post is meant for employees only, or people who aren’t angry. So: apology, miscalculation on demand, temporary fix, engineers are working, appreciate your patience, apology again. Et voila. UGotta Kidding isn’t so mad anymore.

  9. Keith's reply

    Given TWC’s less-than-stellar service in my area, I had low expectations for the iPad app. Nice to see they’re at least consistent where bad performance is concerned.

  10. Party1999's reply

    Sorry, but every party I’ve ever been to that ran out of beer, we would trash the house and leave.

  11. ..'s reply

    It was a great party because we ran out of beer. Now we’re going to serve less beer so we don’t run out.

  12. Michael Thompson's reply

    App doesn’t work if you use an WIFi router between the TW-supplied WiFI modem and your iPad.

    For example, I have an Airport Extreme to serve my devices, so your app is worthless. My neighbor has a Time Capsule between your modem and his iPads, so it fails for his family, too.

    Seems like something very OBVIOUS that should have been addressed during testing.

  13. Michael Thompson's reply

    MacDailyNews Take: Time Warner’s app also doesn’t work at all if you have a WIFi router between the TW-supplied WiFi modem and your iPad. So, if you use an Airport Extreme or Time Capsule or any other router in place to serve your devices, as Time Warner Cable representatives recommend*, the Time Warner app is currently worthless. That such a common situation wasn’t anticipated, tested, and accommodated would be surprising if it weren’t for the fact that the app is from Time Warner Cable.

    *Time Warner Cable representatives that MacDailyNews spoke with recommended using the Airport Extreme instead of their modem’s WiFi and turning off the TW modem’s WiFi capability and setting it to bridge mode. This, on the day they released an iPad app that does not function with such a setup in place. Par for the Time Warner Cable course.

    http://macdailynews.com/2011/03/16/time-warner-cuts-back-live-tv-ipad-app-due-to-overwhelming-demand/

  14. Darren Benjamin's reply

    I currently have the same problem with using a WiFi router but it worked on the day of the launch. I think it is related to their servers being overloaded.

    All I get now is the standard “you have to be at home” message….

    Lets hope it gets fixed REAL soon

  15. Marc Erickson's reply

    Just want to respond to the Michael Thompson comment above:
    My set up is – TWC modem (a brick), which is non-wireless, connected to my Vonage supplied Motorola modem, which is wireless. And the TV iPad app works. It crashes a hell of a lot but I seem to be able to get 30+ channels.

  16. Steve Ransford's reply

    when will an app for ipod/iphone be available?

  17. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    Hi guys – I actually *just* finished a blog post about the “unable to connect” issues mentioned above by @Darren, @Kyle, others. We deployed a fix that should have taken care of many of these issues. A small percentage of our users may still experience this, however. It has to do with account configurations varying slightly in some instances. If that’s the case for you, please call customer care. If the agent on the phone can’t help, they should transfer you to the Digital Identity Group (DIG) who can get you squared away.

    Thanks for chiming in here — and I’m glad some of you like this!

  18. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    Just published the post that I was working on: http://bit.ly/eiIHBg

    Hope this helps a little.

  19. Dextermorph's reply

    Works great for me….maybe have update: if you pay for hbo, starz,show,etc you can watch on the app, and how bout sum indemand and ppv?

    Id pay xtra if i could use it outside my house, $10-$20 would be reasonable or whatever you charge for premium chnnels, cuz the jailbreakers will figure out away soon enuff

  20. Rand's reply

    Downloaded last night, still does not work. Plays for a minute then freezes with “connecting” message, then crashes. Called cust service and they had no clue what I was talking about, as if I were only one with this problem. Of course you know how frustrating it is when new products don’t work because none of you products ever work out of the box. Cable TV and internet is ancient technology and you still can’t get it right. And you want my phone service too? No thanks!

  21. Dan Bejma's reply

    This post here, “…While it’s absolutely infuriating for it not to work after download, I appreciate the apology. Not a bad post, just written in the wrong order….”

    …..is just about the pinnacle of me HAVING to say..

    What is WRONG with some of you?!! Seriously!? Your LIVES are being “wronged” by TWC because they released a TV app for FREE, and it’s a little buggy or goes ‘down’ for a while, or doesn’t even work!?

    REALLY!? A little TV App? Wow.

    Put down your iPad. Turn on your TV you already have, and enjoy your shows like you’ve been doing. OK? Lay off of these developers. They’re people just like you and I. Seriously. Talk to friends and family. Don’t hate so much. Enjoy life.

    We get a totally FREE APP that’s just a really cool bonus on top of our service we are currently getting. It’s not even “needed” for quality of our lives, or even needed to complete our paid for cable services we’ve been viewing…. and it comes out with some issues and within MERE MINUTES, a LOT of you start JUMPING on the developers?

    Come on people. Give it a chance. Give them a chance. Breathe. Count to 10. Things will be ok.

  22. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    @Rand – I’m sorry to hear that you’re still having trouble with this thing. Let me see if I can chase down an answer for you. I can’t guarantee that I’ll fine one today, but I’ll be in touch as soon as I can.

  23. Jeff Simmermon's reply

    @ Dan. Thank you, thank you. Have you seen Louis C.K.’s “Everything is Amazing and Nobody’s Happy” on Youtube?

  24. Duane's reply

    App hangs often at startup and have to restart it until it will begin streaming, but once it’s running, it’s awesome. The release of this app is actually why I bought my iPad. Hope to see more Channels available soon.

  25. Java's reply

    Stupid app doesn’t work. Says I need to be in my home (I am) and a Time Warner customer (I am) and using their router(I am). There are no settings or anyway to troubleshoot. Just says no. So stupid.

  26. MrBigHands's reply

    Java, same thing here- tried several times it says I have to be a subscriber and at home- I AM!!!! I do have airport extreme between cable modem and iPad but why would it matter? And there’s no self support/troubleshooting section anywhere ether, not a link other than “not customer yet?” I actually liked TWC but now not so much and each time I open this useless app and find that it still doesn’t work even after just updating it I think it’s bunch of bs. No love here :(

  27. Stuart Young's reply

    Sent a note to Cust. Service. Noted that we needed at least our local channels, full screen ability on iPad, freezes up all the time, too few channels, better cust. service. Thought they should read the customer comments on itunes and get to fixing the poor app. They responded that they do read comments and will consider mine. Clearly TW is still in the dark ages on how to make an app work. Great idea… bad app.

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