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Netflix pausing/buffering issues

304557 Views 717 Replies Latest reply: Jan 8, 2014 10:44 AM by tommy2103.87 RSS
  • Jacob Best Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 9:02 PM (in response to rwross1776)

    Well I did some tests tonight and think I gained some valuable insight.

     

    Started by simply rebooting eveything before watching my nightly fix of Lost. That included the cable modem, Airport router and ATV. None of which I had rebooted in weeks.

     

    Afterwards I queued up my next episode to see if there was any improvement. There was. Major improvement actually. I made it through 1.5 episodes before the buffering returned. Just the night prior I experienced no less that 15-20 times where a single episode buffered.

     

    OK -Netflix is off my sh!*t list for now.

     

    Once I ran into the first buffer tonight, I paused, powered down my ATV, Airport and cable modem and plugged my ATV directly into the cable modem so that it was the only device -home run with no router.

     

    Fired up the ATV and watched two complete episodes in HD with ZERO buffering. Yahoo!!!!

     

    I feel confident that I have isolated my problem to my Airport router running its factory settings which are not ideal for handling streaming content constantly. A reboot is a short-term fix that simply clears the cache on the router until the next time it gets all funky and starts acting up. This weekend I will create a custom setting for my Airport router with dedicated bandwidth allocations that should help minimize the frequency of it getting funky and report back after doing more tests.

     

    It might solve the problem for me but it also might just extend the length of time it takes the problem to rear its ugly head again. Eventually I might just have to get into the habit of cycling the power once a month? week? on both the router and the modem if I want things to stay solid.

  • rwross1776 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 9:11 PM (in response to Jacob Best)

    Jacob,

     

    Unless you just didn't mention it, I'd suggest rebooting the Atv only and see what effect. I do not believe its an airport issue as I've mentioned from my tests.

     

    Many if the folks in this thread don't use airports and the only thing everyone had in common is Atv and Netflix.

     

    Rather than power cycling the Atv, you can warm reboot by holding down the menu and down buttons on the original remote simultaneously.

     

    I'll be curious to see if your results mirror my own. Hopefully I can save you several hours of router configuration testing ;-)

  • studio603graphics Calculating status...
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    Jan 4, 2012 9:16 PM (in response to Jacob Best)

    I think it's awesome that we get excited if we can make it through one show without buffering, that tells me that Apple has done a good job of managing our expectations with this particular device...

     

    On a serious note, I would like to know how many of you that are having buffering issues are using an Airport wifi router. I have noticed a few people on this thread mention it and I am also using an Airport Extreme, so there may be something behind that... ALTHOUGH, that is the same router that feeds my Wii, and my BluRay, and my TV, and Macbook Pro, and my iPhone, and my iPad, and my iMac which ALL stream netflix with ZERO problems, so I'm a little hesitant to blame the router just yet. It is a truely awesome router by the way.

     

    I just can't wrap my head around the fact that every single device I am using to stream Netflix (which there are many, see above) has absolute no problems at all, yet my ATV has yet to make it through a single show or movie without massive buffering. Honestly, I refuse to blame Netflix here because it works on EVERYTHING ELSE in my house except the ATV pile of s**t that is collecting dust for me.

     

    Seriously disapointed in Apple for the first time in my life...

     

    Hope it gets fixed soon !!!!

  • Jacob Best Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 4, 2012 9:38 PM (in response to rwross1776)

    I will try rebooting just the ATV if I get more buffering between now and the weekend and report back on the results. I didn't focus on just the ATV as the problem because unlike most people on this thread, I was experiencing the same buffering issue on both my ATV and my Sony Bravia.

     

    That pushed me to believe that neither were at fault and while I initially wanted to blame Netflix, after speaking to friends who do much more taxing things with their home networks, I decided to focus on the Airport router and my cable modem.

     

    I too will be seriously disappointed with Apple for the first time in my life if this indeed is just the ATV being a little black box of sh!*t  with no other solution than to reboot constantly or avoid Netflix altogether.

     

    Regardless, I think I need to pursue some other steps to ensure that I get better results with my Bravia as well which I did not have time to test tonight after all the reboots.

     

    Time to hit the sack for now.

  • Bradley Rubin Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 5, 2012 5:32 AM (in response to Jacob Best)

    While I can't expect people new to this thread to go back and read the whole, long, saga, let me jump in and correct a few very common and very understandable misunderstandings.

     

    1. "Netflix only buffers on the ATV, and no other device in my house, so the problem is the ATV."  Wrong.  Netflix chooses the servers, run by 3rd parties called CDNs, based on device type.  In the past, I have looked at the actual network packets and found that Netflix had used one vendor for the ATV, and it ALWAYS buffered from that vendor, yet never assigned that vendor for the Roku.

     

    2. "I (pick one) [A. Rebooted my ATV B. Rebooted my modem C. Replaced my HDMI cable D. Installed the latest ATV update E. Downgraded the ATV firmware F. Changed my DNS settings G. Waved a chicken over my head] and it worked, so I resolved the problem.  Wrong (probably).  The 3rd party servers are assigned anew for each show you watch.  So when you have a problem, you are connected to a bad Netflix 3rd-party server.  When you do A-G and then watch a show, you roll the dice and get a good Netflix 3rd-party server, and you think you fixed the problem, post here, and then the problem reappears down the road.  Correlation is not cause and effect.

     

    If this recent outbreak of the problem is like the one I worked on during the summer, then this is mostly Netflix's fault.  I see only two paths to resolve it: 1. Return products and cancel subscriptions for products and services that you pay for, yet do not adequetly perform their advertised function.  If you can't or don't want to do so, then 2. Call Netflix and Apple support.  But beware: when you do so, they will have you do some basic things to resolve the problem and it will "work", but see point 2 above... this will be an "H"!

     

    -- Brad

  • i2bjammin Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 5, 2012 8:33 AM (in response to Bradley Rubin)

    So, the problem is either:

     

    1. A particular CDN Server (or set of servers)

    2. The "Network"
    3. The AppleTV

    4. A combination of the above.

     

     

    If the problem is #1, then why doesn't Apple prove it and put pressure on Netflix/CDNs to fix the issue?

     

    If the problem is #2, then the ATV2 is more susceptible to network issues than other streamers (I haven't had a problem on any device other than the ATV2. This could require a redesign of their buffering approach.

     

    If the problem is #3, then Apple should fix it.

     

    If the problem is #4, IMO, Apple being the common element in 1-3 above, is still responsible. They are the company that is claiming their product works with Netflix. Maybe there is something more calculated/nefarious going on. Is Apple selling us ATVs claiming Netflix support, getting us frustrated so that we just start buying their movies? Canceling Netflix subscriptions may be just what they want....

     

    More questions:

     

    Why is Apple so quiet? As pointed out above, they have their customers running in circles wasting their time on this issue.

     

    When Apple puts out new firmware, why don't they describe which issues have been resolved? I'm probably going to return my unit. It would be nice to know, through Apple release notices, when my particular issues have been addressed. Or, do I have to buy/test/return one a month until the issues are resolved?

  • Bradley Rubin Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 5, 2012 9:45 AM (in response to i2bjammin)

    Good questions, here are my best answers with the >> symbol:

     

    So, the problem is either:

     

    1. A particular CDN Server (or set of servers)

    >> The problem last summer was caused by a set of servers, all run by a specific 3rd-party CDN.

     

    2. The "Network"

    >> No


    3. The AppleTV

    >> Indirectly, in that the Netflix assigned the "bad" CDN's servers to the ATV, but not the Roku box.  The ATV also uses a "just in time" scheme for managing bandwidth, while most other Netflix clients buffer ahead, but the error rates I saw were so great that having the ATV change to the "buffer ahead" scheme probably wouldn't resolve the issue.  Also, I fault the ATV for not clearly showing this as a "call Netflix" problem to the end user, instead of leaving us to play troubleshooters.

     

    4. A combination of the above.

     

    If the problem is #1, then why doesn't Apple prove it and put pressure on Netflix/CDNs to fix the issue?

     

    >> I helped do exactly this over the summer, collecting and analyzing network packet traces for both the ATV and the Roku boxes, and providing them to the ATV development team.  It literally took Steve Jobs' involvment to get this resolved.  Once Netflix turned off serving the "bad" CDN's servers to the ATV, the problem went away, literally overnight.  I suspect, but don't know since I haven't looked at traces since then, that the same issue, or a form of it, has come back.  This thread was dead quiet between last summer and about a month ago.

     

    If the problem is #2, then the ATV2 is more susceptible to network issues than other streamers (I haven't had a problem on any device other than the ATV2. This could require a redesign of their buffering approach.

     

    >> See above.  This might be correct, but the error rates I saw were so high that buffering/no buffering was not the primary issue.  Technially speaking, I do think that the "just in time" packet delivery approach is the future, if it is done right.

     

    If the problem is #3, then Apple should fix it.

     

    >> They can't technically control Netflix's servers.  This is a business issue.  They can (and should) control the error recovery and reporting to the user.

     

    If the problem is #4, IMO, Apple being the common element in 1-3 above, is still responsible. They are the company that is claiming their product works with Netflix. Maybe there is something more calculated/nefarious going on. Is Apple selling us ATVs claiming Netflix support, getting us frustrated so that we just start buying their movies? Canceling Netflix subscriptions may be just what they want....

     

    >> I, too, have developed many business conspiricy theories surrounding this issue, but have no facts.  I do believe that Apple, of all companies, understands that satisfied customers are essential for their success, and that unhappy customers cost them money, both in the near term and long term.

     

    More questions:

     

    Why is Apple so quiet? As pointed out above, they have their customers running in circles wasting their time on this issue.

     

    >> I don't know, although what should they do?  Make a public announcement that this is Netflix's fault, even though this only happens on the ATV, and suggest that their customers dump on Netflix?  They need to resolve their business issue with Netflix.  As I mentioned, I do think that they should fix the error recovery and reporting so customers know who to call.  Also, this doesn't happen for everyone (for reasons I never figured out), so they only know the scope of the problem when people call support.  I suspect that the vast majority of customers don't experience the problem, and are happy.  We viewers of this thread represent only people who have experienced this problem.

     

    When Apple puts out new firmware, why don't they describe which issues have been resolved? I'm probably going to return my unit. It would be nice to know, through Apple release notices, when my particular issues have been addressed. Or, do I have to buy/test/return one a month until the issues are resolved?

     

    >> You could have read my "its fixed" note this summer, bought the ATV/Netflix combo, used it without problem up until last month, and then found yourself back in the "its broken again" club.  The only long-term sustainable solution to these types of problems, is for Apple and Netflix to work together to make sure that these problems do not happen, make it clear to customers where the fault lies when things break (Apple, Netflix, ISP, etc.), and then fix broken things, in partnership.

     

    -- Brad

  • i2bjammin Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 7, 2012 9:30 AM (in response to Bradley Rubin)

    Brad -

     

    1. Thank you for your efforts on our behalf. You are definitely on the right track with the packet sniffing, etc.

     

    2. I agree that there is nothing the end user can do to fix this, and that it is a waste of time to try.

     

    3. This has been going on a long time and if Apple had a good relationship with Netfllix and both parties wanted to fix the issue, it would have been over with by now. As I have said before, this is not rocket science - there are other streamers out there that work great.

     

    4. I guess if I was Apple and was producing a Netflix streaming product, I would have ensured that my streamer received the same priority/performance/stream as any other company's streamers. Surely Apple must have something like this in place. In that case, they should sue Netflix, packet sniffing evidence in hand! (I am not a litigious person, but this is ridiculous)

  • Bradley Rubin Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 7, 2012 10:26 AM (in response to i2bjammin)

    If this was a technical issue that Apple had the ability to fix, it would have been fixed.  Last summer, this was a technical issue for Netflix, and a business issue for Apple.  Apple resolved the business issue by encouraging Netflix to fix the technical issue.  It appears that Apple cannot again resolve the business issue (assuming the current problem breakout has the same root cause as the issue last summer).

     

    <Edited by Host>

     

    -- Brad

  • clearsound Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 7, 2012 11:51 AM (in response to Bradley Rubin)

    Rather than an online petition, let's start by assuming that Netflix is inherently motivated to fix its problems so it can keep customers and grow its business.  We can give them much more specific information to work with if we sign into our Accounts at netflix.com every couple of days and report the problem for each viewing where we experienced the pausing/buffering issue.  On the "Your Account & Help" they list all your recent activity, and have a link for "Report Problem" to the right of each item viewed.  Click the link and check the box for "Unexpected pauses/frequent stops and starts", and then Continue.

     

    They should be able to correlate the times, network activity, server activity, AppleTV vs. other, etc. with our bad experiences.  That would give them a better chance of finding and fixing (or managing) the issue(s) than if they just receive a petition "broadside".

  • george Guy Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 2:19 PM (in response to Bradley Rubin)

    was reading through this and have found the only fix for me so far was to downgrade the quality in settings to 420p to avoid buffering.  I haveyet to try the DNS fix as from reading this do not think it will help.  however i came across this article today and it makes me want to perhpas give it a try tonight when i get home from work.  maybe it will allow me to stream at 720p without all the pausing issues.  idk it does also backup your cdn finds and just wanted to know if you have heard anything about this yet?  thx

     

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/networking/google-and-opendns-join-forces-to-speed-up- dns/1394

  • chocolatechickenpie Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 9, 2012 8:20 PM (in response to RebeccaA)

    So, the solution is to buy a wii just to instant stream?

     

    annoying to say the least

  • Jacob Best Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 10, 2012 7:49 PM (in response to rwross1776)

    Ok update tonight....

     

    After 6 days of use since my modem/router/ATV reboot test I just now had my first buffering issue. That's a big improvement based on my experiences of doing nothing in the past. When it started buffering tonight I only did a warm reboot which takes less than a minute and seems to have had the same effect. Buffing stopped!!! I will see how long it lasts and report back when it starts up again. If I get similar results I would be totally content to simply perform a warm reboot once a week and call it quits. This is a $99 streamer and I use it as much if not more for the photo and music features which stream flawlessly. I agree if this is an Apple business issue and a Netflix server issue we need to let Netflix know and logging onto our accounts to file a complaint sounds like a great idea. That assumes Apple is reading these and Netfilx is not. We need them to both know and work together to trace and fix.

     

    Would be nice to have better ATV error reporting fom Apple as well regardless so people don't pull their hair out trying to fix network problems that don't exist.

     

    Until they resolve... Crossing my fingers that a warm reboot once a week does the trick!!!

     

    Thanks all,

     

    Jacob

  • Ziatron Level 4 Level 4 (3,255 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 10, 2012 8:40 PM (in response to chocolatechickenpie)

    So, the solution is to buy a wii just to instant stream?

     

    annoying to say the least

     

    I have largely gone back to purchasing DVDs. Hasslefree, and can watch them anywhere.

  • idamacman Calculating status...
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    Jan 10, 2012 11:15 PM (in response to Jacob Best)

    I have been using Apple products since the MacPlus. I presently have 2 Imacs, an Iphone 4 and an Ipad 2. My spouse has a MacBook and an Iphone 4. All the Apple products have been fantastic............that is until we bought AppleTV 2. We have had so much problem with this POS that I can't believe it is an Apple product. Please say it isn't so. I have bought new routers and even switched internet providers. I have rebooted, cold booted and just about 'booted' the Apple TV through my front window. Nothing works well, except perhaps radio stations.  If we are lucky, Netflix runs for a few minutes before buffering starts. We have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting an Itunes movie to run without issues despite switching to a 20 MB ps cable internet provider. The most annoying thing is that I only experience these problems on Apple TV. If I hear of a class action law suit I will be the first in line to sign up.

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