In the summer of 2011, we upgraded to a Sony Bravia HDTV. We spent a lot of time researching this purchase, because we wanted a TV with built-in streaming video features like YouTube, Amazon Streaming Video, Hulu, Netflix, Crackle and more.
Our television is a little over three years old now, and it’s already outdated. I’ve already blogged about the TV displaying a message that its on-screen programming guide was being discontinued just 18 months after we bought the TV.
Tonight, we clicked the YouTube button on the television to watch some clips (something we do often — we love catching up on late-night TV YouTube clips and content on our television.)
This is what we saw:
YouTube: This app will be unavailable after 20/04/2015. Please visit youtube.com/devicesupport
We sat staring at our TV in shock. We use YouTube on this television several times a week! I visited the URL shown on our TV, and it states:
Certain older YouTube apps will no longer be supported after April 2015
Devices affected: Select devices manufactured in 2012 and earlier, including Sony TVs & Blu-ray Players, Panasonic TVs & Blu-ray Players, and devices running Google TV.
On April 20, 2015, we will no longer support the YouTube app on certain device models from 2012 and older, as we upgrade the Data API that these apps are based on.
I headed over to Sony’s site, which has a list of affected television models. There are 180 models of Sony televisions affected — not counting the Sony Blu-Ray players, home theater systems, receivers and media viewers that also currently stream YouTube but will not be able to after April 2015. A bunch of Panasonic models are affected as well.
Back in 2012, we learned the hard way that even though a new television supports something at the time you buy it, there’s no guarantee that the television will continue to support those features for its lifetime. When I wrote to Sony to complain about the TV’s on-screen programming guide being discontinued a year and a half after we bought the TV, they responded that it was Rovi, the on-screen guide’s supplier, who decided to drop the feed — not them. The same thing appears to be happening now with YouTube.
In the case of our on-screen TV guide issue, Sony’s internet tech support boards erupted with angry posts, and Sony later emailed owners instructions for connecting an updated on-screen guide supplied to the TV over the internet, which replaced the old over-the-air programming guide. (A few months later, Sony discontinued the internet-enabled guide as well. Not nice, Sony!)
Time will tell if a similar solution or workaround will be created for our “old” TV. It appears that this on-screen message from YouTube just began appearing today on affected TVs, because YouTube’s support site has comments from other “old TV” users, dated today:
“Just a few years after buying SMART TVs for YouTube, they will effectively cease to function. Surely, it must be possible to update the app and place the new version in the TVs store, so customers can continue to watch YouTube on their quite recent and expensive SMART TVs. Surely, you don’t expect people to purchase a new TV every few years to stay SMART?”
“come on YouTube…. surely you don’t expect us to purchase new hardware every few months…”
“This stunt is unnecessary, inconsiderate to users, and environmentally irresponsible because of all the physical hardware you are declaring obsolete.”