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Tech Tip: Something Old, Something New: Limiting COVE Playback Errors

by Max Duke, Station Products and Innovation Director 

Whether you have used COVE for three years or three months, are a super-user or a novice, we have all experienced the “Video is not available” message from time to time. You go through all the steps, you are sure you did it right, but for some reason the video you added to your portal/partner player/viral player is not playing back.

While it’s normal for any technology system to have its hiccups, there are a few things that can help limit the frequency of this message. Plus, word of a NEW feature improvement coming soon.

Continue reading for the tips!


  • Empty Duration Field
    This is an embedded player-only issue. You grab either partner player or viral player code, drop it into a page and the video won’t play. This is tied directly to the Duration field of the COVE asset.

    Solution: Fill in the Duration (or let us do it for you)
    Filling in the duration field with the video timecode (format - HH:MM:SS) will eliminate this problem.

    NEW FEATURE: We are releasing an update soon to automatically populate the duration field after you provide the Mezzanine video file. Users of the original COVE admin will remember that duration was never an item that needed to be entered. When the new admin was released, duration was a new field that had to be manually populated. Now you can skip the field.
  • Incompatible Video Encoding
    The actual player that serves both Flash and HTML5 videos in the portal, on mobile sites or in embedded players actually requires a fairly specific encoding. Long time users of COVE will remember how specific the video format had to be to get it to work. If the format isn’t right, the video won’t play properly.

    Solution: Use Mezzanine Video Files
    Mezzanine video formats (which is a fancy word we use for High Quality) can limit the playback errors due to format issues. By providing the high quality video, COVE creates the proper encoding for you for all formats. The other (HUGE) benefit of the mezzanine files … multiple platforms! Any video with a mezzanine file will play on any new distribution platform (like mobile or Xbox).

    Tip: Make sure you are selecting the right encoding profile (Mezzanine 16x9 or Mezzanine 4x3). If COVE doesn't have the right profile to instruct it, the correct formats won't be created.
Hopefully, these two tips/notes will help limit the "video not available" messages your users see. Also, remember that it can take up to 20 minutes or so before a published video is available for playback. One last item: don't forget you can always check http://status.pbs.org to check product health, review outage notices, and subscribe to product uptime updates.

Do you have any tricks of the trade for troubleshooting or solving playback issues? Share them in the comments below to help others (and us) keep COVE running smooth!