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Munged.Org Where Wookie waxes loquatious, because he can.

Apple TV Apps Sound but no Video

For Christmas my sweetie got me a year of the Criterion Channel app. It’s a collection of classic movies, many of them from way way way back. I installed the app on the Apple TV, and did all the sign up and sign in.

When a movie was played, nothing happened. It just sat and showed the loading spinner for as long as you wanted to watch it.

Then we noticed that the Vudu app would play movies, but with only sound, no picture. This had been working as recently as a month earlier.

I decided I was going to re-up HBO MAX to see what was new there, and because new Warner Brothers movie releases are available there same time as they are in the theater.1 It would not load movies, it just showed the TV rating over and over.

On further checking, Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube all worked. Amazon Prime Video didn’t. Apple TV and Movies worked too.

I was pretty sure that this wasn’t an Apple TV problem, because it worked with some stuff. But there was a pattern somewhere, and I don’t know enough about how these apps are all coded, and interact with the TV, to figure it out.

Letting my fingers do the walking thru some searches came up with very little. There was mention of re-installing the app. Restarting or resetting the Apple TV itself. Change HDMI ports. HDMI cables. But I found no examples of exactly what I had going on with a definitive fix.

I decided to work thru all the things I found, before I called an Apple Genius to see if they could help. I’d already done restarts, resets, and re-installs. Switched HDMI ports on the TV. I went out and got myself some sure-to-be-good-enough (8K) HDMI cables and plugged them in between the Apple TV and the receiver, and the receiver and the TV.

And holy crappoly, new HDMI cables fixed it.

I totally didn’t expect cables to fix this; I was just being thorough. I figured a bad cable would be bad for all the apps, not just some of them. But I guess not. My Apple TV is capable of 4K but the receiver and TV aren’t. I did replace the Apple TV a while back, and all this may have started then. Maybe there’s a new HDCP scheme for 4K and up TVs or something and the cables have to be part of the deal.

I dunno.

On futher reflection tho, this does make a certain kind of sense. I have cables currently in use on and around on my desk that might date from living on 29th Street in New York city, around 15 years ago, when Cat3 ethernet cable was the new expensive thing2. I’ve been working to replace these over time, but I need to get a couple more things in place before I tear down my desk and re-do all of it. It shouldn’t therefore surprise me that there are cable problems here.

  1. Specifically the new Matrix movie. I thought they had Dune too, but I was wrong. I thought there might be more, but they’re probably in all the crappy super hero titles. 

  2. I think we’re up to Cat6a now for 10G ethernet.