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Unable To Play Videos On ABC.com? The Plot Thickens

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Apparently, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to Web 2.0, or technology in general.  Of course it never has, which is why I was well employed in the tech support sector for many years.  Just when I had it all figured out, just when had a solution to share with everyone on how to watch their favorite shows on ABC.com, Fox.com, and CWTV.com on the chosen Move Media player, it all unraveled.  This time, the issue had nothing to do with the Move Media player itself, rather one of its components.  Adobe made some “upgrades” to its Flash plug-in and things stopped working.       

It’s been a while since my last article, so let’s review how this whole mess began.  It all started because I wanted to watch Life On Mars on ABC.com.  After struggling for weeks trying to get the video to play on IE, I ended up installing the Firefox browser and after installing the latest version of Adobe Flash, Java, and the Move Media player, I was watching the shows without issue.    

My quest didn’t stop there though, for I was still determined to crack the IE mystery.  Eventually I found that there are plenty of other programs that can cause ActiveX conflicts in IE, plus Vista has some very tight security, so even though the Move Media player install showed success, it wasn’t installing correctly (the video not playing being the clue).  Once I disabled every add-on in IE, uninstalled an application I needed for remote access at work, plus logged on as administrator, the install seemed to work for I could finally play videos for those sites in IE.   

Since then though, I’ve looked at the Java code thoroughly for ABC.com, CWTV.com and Fox.com and concluded that Firefox is still the most secure browser to run the videos with, mostly because it doesn’t use ActiveX.  However, given what Adobe Flash has done to its player since version 9, IE might not be any worse.

The Plot Thickens 

I’ve had several people contact me within the last month letting me know they can’t get the videos to play on Firefox.  I verified they were running either Firefox versions 2 or 3, and were on either Windows Vista or XP.  Despite my efforts and changing my versions of Adobe Shockwave Flash and Java to match theirs, I couldn’t duplicate the problem.  I found though that there were enough complaints out on the Web and through feedback on my article where the problem was very real.   

Thanks to one very determined lady, who I’ll refer to as D, we went through a lengthy exercise over the last couple of weeks to get to the root of the problem.  It was a very eye-opening experience and in the end we had success, although it took a lot of work and left me with the impression that these new player solutions are being held together by virtual duct tape and chicken wire.       

D’s problem was videos would play on ABC.com, CWTV.com, or Fox.com, but only for a few seconds.  Hulu.com played fine, so I suspected at first it was a Move Media player problem.  She was running Firefox 3.0.6 and Shockwave Flash 10 r22.  She uninstalled and reinstalled the Move Media player, upgraded both Java and Adobe Flash to the latest versions, and we made sure there was no interference with her anti-virus application.  I had her clear the cache and cookies after each install.  Also, since hulu.com worked, that confirmed there was no ISP issue.   

After that we made sure she entered exceptions in the Options window on the Firefox browser for all the sites that ABC.com was using for the player, including the really bizarre pt.reward.com and w88.go.com (links can be found loading with the application at the bottom left hand corner of the Firefox browser).  That resulted in the audio playing fine, but not the video.  After all this, I suspected this went beyond Move Media.    

After Google searching, I found numerous complaints of Firefox users unable to play Flash videos on YouTube and several other sites.  Either they’d only get audio, or the video would freeze after two seconds.  It used to work, but since they went to Flash 9, it stopped.  The problem only affected certain people, and there was no clear cut reason why some were getting this problem and not others.   

Upon reading through pages of complaints and possible theories thrown out by developers, I came up with something.  The problems happened after Adobe implemented security fixes.  D found in the Error Console on Firefox an error “Permission denied to call method Location.toString.”  That is a known bug with Mozilla, still not fixed and it’s also a something they don’t believe is causing more than an annoying error.  That could be (although some disagree), but it meant something significant changed in the security handling, thus causing applications that once worked to have new issues.      

I next suspected that the latest version of Flash 10 didn’t install properly.  I came to that conclusion after Adobe claimed that the latest release of Flash 10 fixed these video playback issues, but that version is what D installed.  I also read an analysis that if the version of Shockwave Flash in IE is different from Firefox, that might also cause conflicts, and well as any previously installed versions, which do not get deleted during an upgrade.  I also read that the security fixes tightened the access settings for Firefox, so it’s possible on multiple user systems that only the administrator can successfully install the latest versions.    

So, with evidence pointing to the problem either being a security setting issue, a potential conflict with IE and other Flash versions, and/or an install issue, I came up with a crazy and cumbersome routine for D to try based on all the variables I knew.  These are the exact steps in order that I had her follow:     

  1. Uninstall all versions of the Flash player in the Uninstall programs utility in Windows.  There might be multiple versions and all must go to eliminate any conflicts.        
  2. Reboot the system, and log back in as administrator.
  3. Open IE, go to www.hulu.com, and follow the prompts to install the latest Flash player.  As of the time of this article, that version is  Why Hulu?  I found their Flash video downloader is more stable than others. 
  4. Close the IE browser, open it again, and go back to Hulu.com.  Verify a video plays.
  5. Reboot the system again, and log back in as administrator.
  6. Open the Firefox browser, go to www.hulu.com, and do the install there.  I had to try the install three times because of the latest issues with the Flash executable, but it does work eventually. 
  7. Close the Firefox browser, open it again and go back to Hulu.com.  Verify a video plays. 
  8. If Hulu.com videos play in both IE and Firefox, open www.abc.com in Firefox and play a full episode.  It should play without doing anything with the Move Media player. 

This solution worked!  Prior to this, D tried installing and reinstalling many times Flash and the Move Media player, but it wasn’t until she followed this routine in these exact steps that finally worked for her.  Using the correct downloader, removing all older versions of Flash and synching the newest versions, and being logged in as administrator to assure no security conflicts with the install was the safest approach to getting video streaming applications to work.   

All systems are different though, so you might not have to jump through so many hoops like this (I didn’t have to).  It can’t hurt though, and given how buggy and vulnerable Flash 9 and 10 have been, it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Granted this won’t leave any environment completely secure.  No browser, operating system or anti-virus protection can guarantee that.  If you want to catch up on The Bachelor though, you’re good to go.  

Still having problems?  Send me a comment, and I’ll see what I can do to help.    

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About Alice Jester

  • Good work! I had a similar problem about a year ago that turned out to be related to my sound card drivers. Same exact symptoms…YouTube video would play for a couple seconds, then froze.

    Ended up being a problem where I would toggle off the audio hardware from VMWare to mute the virtual machine rather than muting from the audio properties icon within the virtual machine’s taskbar tray. When returning to the host machine, the audio drivers got screwed up somehow from doing this. That was a bugger to pin down since I didn’t immediately correlate VMWare to the audio problem, though it happened on a few different occasions. Finally the light bulb flickered on.

    After reinstalling my audio drivers the last time, the videos played normally again, and have ever since, now that I know what to watch out for.

  • bliffle

    Anyone who knowingly uses ActiveX or Flash deserves whatever ill fate befalls them. Neither of those products is designed to deliver a good user experience, but both are very good at stealing an end users private data from his computer and delivering it to a remote hacker. Oh, and on the way it will plague the user with commercials.

    Disable ActiveX in your browser and refuse to download/install Flash.

    If someone wanted you to see their video clip they would publish it in MPEG or some other open architecture format. Why not? The OA formats are as good or better than the prorietary formats, and they have more years of debugging behind them.

    If you MUST look at a youtube video, First DL it to your internet computer without running it, then move the clip to a separate computer which is not connected to the internet. Look at it there. A number of OA programs will play it.

    For example, I was interested in the Gordon Brown talk uploaded to youtube by CNN (or was it CSPAN?) today so I downloaded it then moved it to a computer which never sees the internet to play it. Both are linux systems, incidentally.

    I do not suffer from identity theft or hacking, because I don’t open the door.

  • Hi, sorry, I gave the three pages of text with different ad-loads a couple of reads, but couldn’t tell which webpage you were trying to view in which browser on which system.

    (The Move Networks part particularly confused me, because that’s entirely separate from Adobe Flash Player, and used in parallel by ABC.com for some of their content. The repeated Java mentions drew me off-track too. Adobe Flash Player 9 was released back in 2006, which made “Player 9 broke it” tricky to understand. Hard to pull out the question.)

    I *think* the main core is “If your Adobe Flash Player isn’t working normally, use the uninstaller to remove everything and install it fresh,” which is the information given in the troubleshooting guide at adobe.com/support/flashplayer.

    Glad you’re up and running now, though.


  • John – Yeah, it’s a little confusing when this is the third article I’ve written about a problem that started a while back with the Move Media player used by abc.com. There were links to those articles early in this one.

    The issues started happening with a particular release of Flash 9 (r11 or r12 I believe). I saw many complaints about this as late as October 2008, right when Flash 10 was released. It only happens with Firefox as IE is okay. There are numerous articles I read from doing a google search talking about this problem with YouTube videos. Whatever happened with YouTube in some cases is affecting the Move Media player as well.

    The issue also was we didn’t know it was the flash player at first. It took many troubleshooting hints to get to that point. Once I figured that out I did check out both the Adobe and Mozilla troubleshooting links. Sadly, none of those solutions worked, for the uninstall and reinstall wasn’t working properly. It wasn’t until we tried the solution I listed that it finally started to work.

    Thanks for the link though, for I’m sure there are others that will need to go to that link to troubleshoot.

  • Michael

    Didn’t work for me. After uninstalling Adobe, Hulu never alerted me it needed Flash player. I installed from Adobe page for IE, had to save file to desktop for Firefox. Never work, but it use to. Tried System restore and that didn’t work either.

  • Pete

    Do you know why abc.com’s new player won’t play at all in linux firefox?

  • there is also something wrong with mine ,it is boring !

  • Meglet

    Oops my bad, just commented on your older article. Followed the instructions precisely and still no go. I get the little spinning cursor like it’s loading but it just cranks and cranks and never does anything.

  • Sorry guys – I’ve been taking a while to catch up.

    Pete – From the list of disclaimers from Move Media, they don’t support a linux plugin. No reason given, but I speculate that they realize the average user doesn’t run on linux and they don’t want to go through the trouble.

    Michael – I heard that there are troubles with the adobe uninstall in removing some of the older versions. There’s a link above in the comments to their troubleshooting site. There is an uninstaller I believe that searches for all older versions, but I had trouble running that myself. You might have to be logged in as administrator for that.

    Meglet – No worries about where you post the comment, I get them all regardless. It sounds like the Move Media player didn’t install properly. I would uninstall and reinstall the Move player, especially if your flash is now upgraded. I’d also try it logged in as administrator. That cursor spinning is definitely a problem with the Move player. If it was a flash problem, it would play for a few seconds and stop.

  • Meglet

    Guess I just wasn’t meant to watch!! I have uninstalled and reinstalled twice now. The first time I uninstalled the addon from my firefox browser, the second time I closed the browser and went to control panel and removed it that way. When I did it that way and came back to ABC it never prompted me to reinstall the Move player again but tried to play and did the same thing (cranking cranking). I’ve tried going to CWTV and it just says “error”. Grrrrr. I give up! (although I’ll probably continue to google every now and then and see if somebody figures it out :D)

  • Meglet – Yeah, that “error” on cwtv.com definitely means the Move player is acting up. If you were never prompted for the reinstall, then it never uninstalled and your copy of the player is bad. Chances are its not deleting the registry in Windows. I would check to see if it is an add-on in IE as well, and deactivate it there. Another place to look (assuming you are on Vista, it might be the same for XP) is c:\users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Move_Networks\ie_bin. There is an uninstaller there, or just delete everything there. That might prompt the reinstall.

  • Tinu

    That’s a lot of hoops to jump through to watch shows online. I prefer watching TV online though, so it’s good to know there are fixes for the issue.

  • Jeannie

    I have been reading your article and i hoped after doing all the things you said it would finally work but it still doesnt. It opens the new window for the video on abc.com, it shows me the commercials and then it says i should click the “continue” button. As soon as i do that the arrow turns into a blue circle and it says “loading”, from that moment on it doesnt do anything else. I read that installing the Mozilla Firefox would help but didnt change anything. I installed the move player again but nothing. If I go on hulu.com i can watch the videos there without any problem. Do you have any idea what else i can try?

  • Gerry

    My abc player stopped working misteriously so I fell on this page upon researching a fix. I am NOT computer savvy but decided to give her method it a shot.
    I operate Windows XP with Internet Explorer and this is what I did:
    *Erased all the cookies
    *Unistalled Adobe Flash Player
    *Unistalled ABC Move Media Player
    *Restarted computer
    *Loaded Flash player from hulu.com as indicated bot ONLY using the Explorer browser (I did not bother with Firefox browser.)
    *Test player on hulu.com (Worked fine).
    *Went to abc.com to the videos, was prompted to download their Player.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Abra

    I am so jealous of everybody that has gotten their players to work. The exact same maddening spinning whirl happens to me as well. I have been reading all the blogs and have officially tried *everything*. Flash is updated and settings correct, installed (and uninstalled) Mozilla, cleared cache, un/reinstalled directly from Move Networks, tried the Hulu trick and still STILL cannot get the whirl to go away. Please I beg of you. Help.

  • I became aware of these settings to check within the last week. This might solve your problem.

    Open the Firefox browser:

    1. Go to Tools, Add Ons, on the Firefox Browser and check to see if Adblock Plus is enabled. If so, disable it.

    2. Go to Tools, Options, Content, Advanced, and make sure Move and Resize Windows is checked.

    Restart Firefox and try playing again.

  • Abra

    I have tried that as well and still can’t get the thing to work. Can’t make it happen in IE OR Mozilla. Any more ideas?? Help!

  • Abra- No problem, I have plenty more suggestions.

    From my experience, the spinning swirl is a Move player problem and not flash. Do you get the swirl on abc and “error” on cwtv? Does it play on Fox? (I can’t remember how it errors there). If it doesn’t work on any of those sites, it’s definitely the Move player. If it’s just ABC, then I can send some more suggestions because their setup is far more involved and they do more downloading from different servers.

    Chances are, the player isn’t installing properly. There are no errors and signs that this is happening. Are you on XP or Vista?

    As for IE, that’s way tougher. You’ll have to disable just about every Add-on, reboot, uninstall everything, reinstall as administrator and try again. That won’t be a guarantee it’ll work either. The Active X controls for other software really mess with the setup. Troubleshooting Firefox is easier.

    Also, can you play on hulu.com? I just want to eliminate the possibility that it’s your ISP.

  • Abra

    Hi Alice

    Thanks a million for your help. I’m on Vista and Hulu works just fine. On ABC it’s the swirl, on Fox it’s just a black screen instead of the episode and fox is a black screen and error above the status bar. It’s frustrating because all the ads and previews play without error it’s just the episodes that don’t work. I’ve tried doing the install directly w/ move and it says it’s installed but the screen never plays. I am at a total loss as to what else I can do so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • The Move player isn’t installing properly. I suspect an older version might exist on your system. I would go into both IE and Firefox and disable the Add-on for Move Media. Then, go into control panel, uninstall a program and uninstall the Move Networks Media player. The one there might be for Internet Explorer, or there might be a couple of versions. Make sure all versions are uninstalled.

    Another place to check is the c:\users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Move Networks directory. Nothing should be under that after the uninstall. If there is an ie_bin directory, the uninstall didn’t work. Just delete that directory if it is there.

    Reboot the system. When you come back in, login as administrator (I’m very sorry if you’ve done all this before. I just want to cover all the bases). Install through Firefox first and do the install through cwtv. Their install process is a lot more stable.

    Let me know if that helps! Trust me, I’ve got more.

  • Abra

    Uninstalled everything, checked c: directory, recycled, rebooted when to cwtv, loaded and then: black blanck screen with “your video will resume shortly”. Didn’t work. *sigh* This had better be the best season of Lost ever.

  • Abra – This season of Lost is so worth it! Best yet imho. We need to get this working for you.

    What I could do now is go through all the Firefox settings. IE is just too much of a mess. My first question is, when you select Tools, error console, what do you see? There should be some errors “expected declaration but found” but I’m looking for something glaring, like unable to open or permission denied. Also make sure the popup blocker is disabled.

    If you’d like to take this offline and work via email, select the url next to my name on this message. It’ll take you to my homepage. There’s a “contact us” section that will send your message to my email. Otherwise, we can go back and forth here too.

  • nicki reid

    I hope this will help someone – all of a sudden I was unable to play episodes on ABC after never having any problems. I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the flash player, the move media player both on IE and Mozilla. After days of trying everything, I remembered that I recently downloaded the new version, 3.0, of Mozilla Firefox, so I uninstalled that and went back to the older version and it worked perfectly. This obviously should not be the answer but at least it works. I’m sure it’s not good to keep the older version but since I am no IT genius, this is what works for me right now. ABC and/or Mozilla should fix this glitch. Any ideas of how I could use the new version and still be able to watch episodes would be greatly appreciated!

  • Meglet

    I wish I could do this but I work on my computer from home and Firefox 3.0 is required for my job. 🙁 If I get desperate enough I may have to keep going back and forth installing and uninstalling though lol

  • vman

    Thanks. I followed the instructions in your article, to handle this problem for a client of mine, and they worked beautifully.

  • Kim

    Alas, I have tried every step noted in the above comments and nothing is fixing the issue. I’m able to watch the videos in Hulu but when I try abc or cw, I get an error code: video ‘2’. I have no idea what that means.

    I’m currently running Windows XP Pro SP3 on a dell latitude E6400. I’ve tried IE as well as Firefox. The computer meets all the necessary requirements.

    I know this computer is capable of watching episodes online from the cw because I watched the first vampire diaries episode on this machine. Haven’t been able to do so since.

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback that you can give.

  • Ken

    “Troubleshoot installed codecs | Windows 7, Vista” might help some people. I didn’t solve my problem of a black screen with no controls at abc and metacafe.

  • Bill

    I know this info is several years old, but I am trying to view abc7’s earthquake cam, and all I get is the black screen with abc7’s logo and “loading video”. I removed flash player and went to hulu to reinstall like you suggested and no go.
    There is NO move player listed or installed anywhere. I used to be able to see the seismocam. Using firefox 14.0.1, winxp sp3. Even IE8 has problems, but I don’t use it.
    How can I get the move player? Their site doesn’t list it anywhere.

  • Hi, I just wanted to give you an update from 2012 that the issue continues to persist and that no, I highly doubt that ABC and/or Mozilla fixed this glitch at all. Funny thing is, some videos on ABC player work, but others don’t. Currently using Mozilla Firefox 13.0, Internet 8.0. Will try your solution and see if this works!

  • Robin

    I may just take the easier route and watch on hulu.com. 😀