The debacle continues around the online radio listener statistics of high profile stations such as Ballz Visual Radio and 2Oceansvibe Radio.
In a bizarre twist, according to social media reports from respected SA IT professionals, NetDynamix has changed its Windows Media player and old Flash player to a new Flash player pointing to a Flash Media server.
The Internet is abuzz with details about the sudden Flash player changes for Ballz Radio and 2Oceansvibe radio, which reportedly occurred following the release of a scathing report from Shaun Dewberry about inflated statistics from these radio stations.
The previous Ballz Visual Radio Windows Media player and Flash player were pointing to the disputed Shoutcast server, hosted at http://126.96.36.199 (see screenshots below). However, the new Flash media player (version 2), seems to use a Flash Media server hosted at a different IP address.
It is currently not clear why the old Flash media player, which seemed to work well, was replaced with an updated version which seems to point to a new server.
What is even more bizarre is that the previous Windows Media player, which worked well when MyBroadband used it, is now replaced with the new Flash player. Ballz visual radio therefore has two Flash players, but no Windows Media player.
However, NetDynamix explained that this assumption may be wrong, and that “Ballz has never had an actual Windows Media Player” (see full response at the end of the article).
Below is a screenshot of the old Ballz Radio Windows Media Player (screenshot taken after Dewberry report). MyBroadband connected to this player using Firefox on Windows 7 on a PC.
Below is a screenshot of the old Flash player (screenshot taken after Dewberry report).
Below is a screenshot of the new Flash player.
Interesting information and changes
NetDynamix previously told MyBroadband that around 90% of the Ballz Visual Radio listenership uses the Flash media player which does not use the Shoutcast server.
NetDynamix spokesperson Hanz Stricker said “percentage wise, it is reasonable to assume that 90.2% of our traffic is tunnelled to the Flash Media Server. Whereas 9% is tunnelled to a node on our Shoutcast network.”
Stricker further told MyBroadband that their Windows Media player is also just using their Flash player, which means that it also uses the Flash Media Server. It should be noted that MyBroadband previously used the actual Windows Media player application on a Windows 7 desktop to listen to Ballz Visual Radio on a few occasions.
Dewberry, the author of the original report, said that “from what I’ve seen the Flash Media Server component was only deployed this week, after my allegations. Google cache confirms this.”
“The original Flash player connected to the Shoutcast stream. Roelf Diedericks has confirmed this too,” said Dewberry.
The screenshots from the “legacy” implementation of the media players and the Google cache seem to substantiate Dewberry’s claims that the Shoutcast server (IP address 188.8.131.52) was used before the change.
The timing of the changes and other technical information about the Flash Media Server sparked an intense debate online. Some of the more interesting comments can be found on the blog post by highly respected IT specialist Roelf Diedericks – Read the full post by Diedericks here
For the sake of accuracy, here is the full response from NetDynamix:
I noticed that you recently changed your Windows Media players (from the Ballz website), which used Shoutcast, to Flash players which uses a Flash Media Server.
We have a rather simple script running on the “player selector” that we implemented in March which was the same time that Ballz entered “demo stream mode” as we could see that the large volumes of traffic being received would need to be directed to our CDN partners but those browsers that relied specifically on the Shoutcast feed in order to be able to listen would only be directed to a page that had shoutcast players available to it.
The eventual idea of the script has always been that it will, based on USERAGENT, direct the visitor right down to a specific player for his device which will in turn start playing without him first having to choose between some 10 different players.
The only explanation I can give in answer to the question is that the script that runs and checks user agents is constantly being modified by our developer as and when bugs are found and as the specific workings of the script and how it detects user agent need to change. It is entirely possible that during our last update on this past Sunday evening had lead to your Windows Media Player being displayed. If you were a visitor of Ballz previously then perhaps at some point your pages had been cached which directed you to an errored page displaying you an embedded Windows Media Player. I am just speculating here though, and am not sure if you have ever listened to Ballz before and what method you used to make that connection.
From time to time our player selectors are served up from different locations as well (especially when our web server hosts become a bit overloaded) it could be that the point of serving that content was not updated or replicated from the main web server. This is something which is quite possible.
Is there any way that we can verify any of this for you easily to put it to bed?
When was this change made on each platform (like Firefox, Internet Explorer and the like)?
A change is never rolled out to a platform such as Firefox or Internet Explorer but rather to a player link or player page on our player selector such as “WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER” or “FLASH PLAYER”
Why was this change made to replace Windows media players to Flash players?
For the most part, Ballz has never had an actual “Windows Media Player” embedded player besides if you enter the player selector and it serves you the “mobile version” (for your verification visit the website from a Windows Mobile Phone… if our scripting is correct it will lead you to http://ballz.ndstream.net/index-10.html or -11.html) – it was designed this way as in theory, those Windows Phone or Windows Tablet devices that are capable of displaying an embedded “Windows Media Player” should do so. Similarly however, on the mobile platforms, if you click on the Flash Player… you’re still going to see the normal CDN based flash player that we have always used for these two clients.