This Is Why DRM Sucks

The short version of this story: a little over a month ago I signed up for a UFC video subscription that would allow me to watch an unlimited amount of UFC fights. This is a lot better than their previous model of $1.99 per fight where the fight timed out after 30 days. Who would pay for that? Paying $9.99 USD/month and getting access to all the content is a bit expensive, but for a real fan, not too bad. So I ponied up, thinking that the DRM (Digital Rights Management) wasn’t going to cause me too many problems. Well, it turns out that their system isn’t quite ready to work with Windows Vista. First I sent two emails to tech support with error details, only to have them tell me that they couldn’t help me, I needed to do a live tech support chat. Tech support told me to try a few different things – installing a DRM software update patch, digging through hidden folders looking for the DRM cache, etc. Every time I tried something new and then tried to watch a fight again, their “player” (which is just an IE window with an embedded Windows Media Player control) would take me away from the chat, forcing me to re-start the chat by filling out a tech request form. I wasted 45 minutes on this whole process before it was finally wrapped up in the chat below.

Welcome to the UFC Technical and Billing Support queue.
You have been connected to Zachary Richards.

Zachary Richards: Hi, Jason.
Jason Dunn: <sigh>
Jason Dunn: This is really frustrating
Zachary Richards: Yeah, I can see that you weren’t able to get a license.
Zachary Richards: You’ve been able to view before, though, correct?
Jason Dunn: On the UFC Help page, did you know that the “Live support” graphic is linked to a form that says “Leave a message”
Jason Dunn: and only the text link takes me to the chat?
Jason Dunn: they should really both link to the live chat, it’s very confusing
Jason Dunn: anyway, you see the error obviously
Jason Dunn: I think I was able to view on XP, but never on VistaZachary Richards: Did you upgrade your machine or your OS?
Jason Dunn: OS – wiped it out and installed Vista
Jason Dunn: ok, so can you give my account a license to view this content?
Zachary Richards: Do you still have access to an XP machine?
Jason Dunn: no
Jason Dunn: were you going to suggest I migrate my licenses or something?
Zachary Richards: No, I was going to suggest that you log in from an XP machine. You don’t need to move the licenses around.
Zachary Richards: This is one of those cases I mentioned earlier where we’re not able to get a Vista machine to play the videos.
Jason Dunn: We’re at a dead-end here. I can’t use the subscription, so can you please issue me a refund?
Zachary Richards: We are working on making the UFC Media Manager fully Vista compliant, but it’s not there yet.
Jason Dunn: This is why people hate DRM – it just sucks.
Jason Dunn: that’s good to hear, maybe I’ll try it again next year if I’m feeling up for it
Zachary Richards: Because you’ve viewed in the past, I’m not able to issue the refund.
Jason Dunn: Pardon me?
Jason Dunn: I paid for a subscription
Jason Dunn: not just a one-time viewing
Zachary Richards: Right, and you were able to view many times.
Jason Dunn: I paid for a six-month subscription
Jason Dunn: many times? I watched I think one or two fights
Jason Dunn: I downloaded a bunch on this Vista machine, but haven’t been able to watch any of them
Zachary Richards: When did you change over to Vista?
Jason Dunn: I didn’t write down the exact date, but it’s been at least a few months….in fact I don’t believe I ever had the subscription active on an XP machine – I just used the single viewing purchase
Jason Dunn: I think I bought this subscription just a month ago
Jason Dunn: surely you have records that show that I haven’t been able to view any of the fights I downloaded? or does your system just track customer downloads?
Jason Dunn: there’s a big difference between downloads and viewing….I can download on this laptop, but not view the fights
Zachary Richards: One moment, please, Jason.
Jason Dunn: Ok, I have a System Restore point here from August 14th…when did I sign up for the UFC subscription? I don’t think it was before that…
Jason Dunn: All these fights time out on September 27th, which must mean I downloaded them on August 27th
Jason Dunn: so I’ve never had the UFC player working since paying for this
Zachary Richards: I’ll issue the refund.
Jason Dunn: Thank you, I appreciate that.
Jason Dunn: I’ll check into this again early next year
Jason Dunn: when hopefully the Vista version is out
Zachary Richards: I have refunded your purchase of the Semi Annual Package for 59.99 USD. Please allow 5-10 business days for the transaction to complete.
Zachary Richards: Yes, please check back periodically for updates to our system requirements.
Jason Dunn: Thanks, bye
Zachary Richards: Is there anything else I may assist you with today?
Jason Dunn: No, that’s all, thanks for the refund
Zachary Richards: Thank you for contacting Live Support. Have a great day! 

The moral of the story? DRM sucks.

  • T-Will

    Oh man, that sounds extremely frustrating…not only does this show how DRM sucks, but also how it seems like software developers are taking forever to make their programs compatible with Vista. This is the reason I will never purchase anything with DRM, and will at least wait for Vista SP2 before migrating over.

  • cgaski

    Jason,

    I’m having similar problems to you getting UFC video download to work on Vista.

    I thought you might be interested because the same guy you were talking to now seems to think that it should work on Vista. Mind you the fact that there has been no response to my last e-mail suggests that he was right the first time….

    Here is an edited version of our email exchange:

    ====================================================================

    Maybe it is significant that there is no UFC folder anywhere on the machine? (Of course there is a UFC Media Manager folder).

    David

    David wrote:
    > Okay, I have done that but I still can’t download the videos. Your FAQ says:
    >
    > …go to your purchase history in your Account. Ensure that you are on the Detail page for that match and scroll down to the Download Options area.
    >
    > The problem is that there is no download option area…
    >
    > David

    And
    > UFC wrote:
    >> Greetings David,
    >>
    >> Since you have Vista, please locate the UFC folder in C:\Users\\Videos\ If your “Videos” folder is in a different location, please navigate to it. If the file for the video you are trying to download is in the UFC folder, please delete that file. If the file is not there, then proceed to the instructions for uninstalling and reinstalling UFC Media Manager.
    >> Regards,
    >> UFC Technical and Billing Support
    >> customer_care@ufc.com
    >> Zachary Richards

    And
    >> —–Original Message—–
    >> From: David (David@combatguy.com)
    >> Sent: Oct 26, 2007 11:40:43 PM
    >> Subject: Re: Download doesn’t start (#8678-85200025-2618)
    >>
    >> Because I am using Vista the path: My Documents > My Videos > UFC does
    >> not exist.
    >>
    >> I had assumed, (probably optimistically!), that UFC on demand would run
    >> on this operating system. Presumably I was wrong even though Media
    >> Manager has installed OK?
    >>
    >> Is there a work around? I could create the path manually but I would
    >> need to put it somewhere where your downloader could find it…
    >>
    >> David

    >> UFC wrote:
    >>
    >>> Greetings,
    >>>
    >>> Thank you for contacting UFC Technical and Billing Support!
    >>>
    >>> Please go to My Documents > My Videos > UFC. If you see the file for the video in the UFC folder, please delete it. Next, you will need to uninstall and reinstall the UFC Media Manager

    >>>
    >>> Regards,
    >>> UFC Technical and Billing Support
    >>> customer_care@ufc.com
    >>> ZR

    >>> —–Original Message—–
    >>> From: David (David@combatguy.com)
    >>> Sent: Oct 26, 2007 9:57:10 PM
    >>> Subject: Download doesn’t start

    >>>
    >>> I get the screen that says, “Please wait while we start the download
    >>> process…”, but after 10 minutes nothing has happened…
    >>>
    >>> David