TV app on Apple TV hardware frustrating users with large libraries

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited May 2023
Most users with giant movie or TV show libraries accumulated since when iTunes media purchases began are having problems loading content on Apple TV hardware -- an issue that has persisted for years.

Long load times in Apple TV Library brings everything to a halt
Long load times in Apple TV Library brings everything to a halt


Apple has offered movies on iTunes since 2006, and avid users have taken advantage. Thanks to Apple's ecosystem integration and customer-focused moves like automatic 4K movie upgrades, it has been a compelling platform for buying digital movies.

However, anyone who has amassed large libraries over the years has noticed a slow creep in technical debt on Apple TV hardware. Depending greatly on Internet speed, libraries in the thousands of titles would take a minute or more to load content in the Apple TV library tab.

In the experience of some AppleInsider employees that have large libraries, they've noticed that it took increasingly longer to load purchased content as early as the Apple TV 3 -- the pre-App Store model. They attributed it to slow internet connections alongside large libraries and tried to ignore it.

This issue became less noticeable as time went on because of the advent of the Apple TV app and Siri search. Users could find a movie by searching through the interface and watching it via purchases or another streaming service.

But whenever someone went to the Library tab, they could easily count to 30 before movies showed up -- again, attributing it to a large library size. One AppleInsider employee has over 1,000 movies and has experienced these long load times for years.

We've seen this issue primarily in the Apple TV app's library tab. The iTunes Movies and TV Shows apps load content in only a few seconds, even though it is loading the same library.

The Apple TV app and iTunes apps may be loading the same user-purchased libraries, but they are loading them differently. While a difference in media thumbnails between the two apps may contribute to the load times, large library size is likely the primary issue with Apple TV app load times.

Sigmund Judge, Apple TV aficionado and editor of Screen Times, performed an experiment showing how the Apple TV app loads user libraries across platforms. In the Twitter thread below, Judge shows how the Apple TV app running on an Apple TV 4K takes nearly 40 seconds to populate his library tab of 3,200 movies, which is in line with our experience.

Apple TV fandom, where did it begin? For me and millions like me the answer is 2006 with the introduction of iTunes 7 & Movie purchases.

16 years on, after building sizeable collections, Apple's most loyal TV customers have a problem. Library tab lockups on Apple TV hardware... pic.twitter.com/jGntUIRJVL

-- Sigmund Judge (@sigjudge)


Judge then shows how different platforms with the Apple TV app load the Library tab. Roku Stick 4K, Playstation, Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast, and others load the tab instantly.

We've checked on our available hardware and confirmed that our library loads instantly on anything that isn't an Apple TV set-top box.

After submitting the issue a few months ago with no fix in sight I thought I'd see how popular third party platforms faired whilst loading my library via Apple's TV.

Roku Stick 4K HDR (instant) pic.twitter.com/PT20xpfhXE

-- Sigmund Judge (@sigjudge)


As Judge points out, it isn't clear what is causing this issue, but the TV app on Apple TV hardware appears to be attempting to load the entire library at once. There doesn't appear to be any attempt to load handfuls at a time, nor is there any data caching.

Every time Apple's TV app is force-quit and reopened, the library tab must reload from scratch. This seems like an outdated interaction that should have been solved by Apple TVs with larger internal storage, now maxing out at 128GB.

Whatever is causing this issue on Apple TV hardware, we hope to see a fix in the coming updates. Apple is expected to announce tvOS 17 in June during WWDC, and that would be a prime time to address its most loyal customer base, which owns hundreds or thousands of movies.

Read on AppleInsider
JonDieseladepaolo

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    amar99amar99 Posts: 181member
    I’ve complained about this to them numerous times. They never do anything about it. Yet every page of the store loads extremely quickly! How convenient…
    davgreg
  • Reply 2 of 15
    AniMillAniMill Posts: 155member
    I see this only in limited times, but I only own 260+ movies. What I really want to see is an effective “Continue” function where coming back from a prolonged pause doesn’t force you to start a search all over again, load the movie, then plunge through all the submenus.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 15
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,000member
    I only have a few movies so this issue is not one I care about. 

     But as someone who doesn’t care about the latest movies or tv shows I hate the way the TV app doesn’t just go to the main “desktop” of I stalled apps any longer but sticks you in some stupid movie/TV limbo and you need to get out to get to the main app listing screen.  


    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 15
    It’s not just the AppleTV app that loads your library slow. My local share using Home Sharing loads painfully slow as well. I’m almost to the point of switching my local library over to Plex, but I just don’t want to deal with the artwork changes. All of my files use  Apple’s 16x9 image. Plex uses the old movie poster style for artwork. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    I've noticed this MANY times...feels really buggy to just sit and stare at blank slots.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    Report it to Apple. This is clearly a bug
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,162member
    fatkid98 said:
    It’s not just the AppleTV app that loads your library slow. My local share using Home Sharing loads painfully slow as well. I’m almost to the point of switching my local library over to Plex, but I just don’t want to deal with the artwork changes. All of my files use  Apple’s 16x9 image. Plex uses the old movie poster style for artwork. 
    This. If one was paranoid, one might think it deliberate it is so unApple like in usability. Maybe apple wants you to us its cloud storage and ATV for movies and shows.

    the other thing is that getting home video onto iOS is pretty painful. You airdrop a video to an iPad and try and getting it in the AppleTv app. It default goes to photos.
    williamlondonFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 15
    entropys said:
    fatkid98 said:
    It’s not just the AppleTV app that loads your library slow. My local share using Home Sharing loads painfully slow as well. I’m almost to the point of switching my local library over to Plex, but I just don’t want to deal with the artwork changes. All of my files use  Apple’s 16x9 image. Plex uses the old movie poster style for artwork. 
    This. If one was paranoid, one might think it deliberate it is so unApple like in usability. Maybe apple wants you to us its cloud storage and ATV for movies and shows.

    the other thing is that getting home video onto iOS is pretty painful. You airdrop a video to an iPad and try and getting it in the AppleTv app. It default goes to photos.
    I have a mixture of both local media and iTunes cloud based media. I was using Finder to sync media to iPads. I’m now using Waltr Pro to sync it. As for the TV app on the AppleTV, it’s my hope that they integrate local media and cloud media in the TV app on the AppleTV, similar to how it’s done on Mac OS.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    I have over 1,000 movies and TV episodes and have only experienced this issue when updating to new computer hardware or a new version of the OS (like going from Monterey to Ventura). It can happen with the movie library and with photo libraries on ATV, i.e., long loading times. Eventually it works itself out though and the delays disappear.

    The persistent issue that I have with thumbnails loading is in the 'People' section of Photos on my Mac. If you have hundreds of people identified through facial recognition the system refuses to load the thumbnails for most of them (this is the grid view when you first click on 'People' and the system is supposed to show a cropped thumbnail of the person with their name over the thumbnail). You can leave that section of Photos open for hours and they'll never load. If you click through on a specific person the system will load all of the thumbnails of photos that they've been identified in but if you go back to the opening grid view...gray rectangle only. 
    edited January 2023
  • Reply 10 of 15
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,767member
    chadbag said:
    I only have a few movies so this issue is not one I care about. 

     But as someone who doesn’t care about the latest movies or tv shows I hate the way the TV app doesn’t just go to the main “desktop” of I stalled apps any longer but sticks you in some stupid movie/TV limbo and you need to get out to get to the main app listing screen.

    If I’m understanding your problem correctly, there is an option in settings under “remotes and devices” where you can change what the TV button does. I believe the default is “Apple TV App”, but you can change it to “Home Screen”. Or maybe you already knew that and I misunderstood.
    edited January 2023 tenthousandthingsthe1maximus
  • Reply 11 of 15
    I started my movie collection in iTunes but soon realized how limited I was. I eventually moved all of my movies into Plex and it’s night and day.  

    Getting Movies out of iTunes with DRM on it, is impossible, so I found other means of getting my movies. If you have the time, do it. 
    edited January 2023
  • Reply 12 of 15
    THANK YOU for bringing more publicity to this.  I have had this issue for YEARS across 3 different versions of AppleTV 4K hardware.  I have a library of over 2000 purchased movies, and they just never load in the AppleTV app at all.  But as the article states, it WILL load on other hardware.  But this is obviously aggravating for someone like me who has only AppleTV devices as their set top boxes in the house.  I have also put in several formal support requests to Apple (3 at least)  and they always end up just ignoring them after the request is filed.  PLEASE Apple, fix this already!
  • Reply 13 of 15
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 1,037member
    I have mostly bought Blu Ray and DVDs and archived them for local use. It works much better than buying from Apple.
    Only buy from Apple when I cannot easily find a Blu-Ray.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    NaiyasNaiyas Posts: 107member
    I have this problem and it is a big issue so far as I’m concerned. I’ve reported it every single time a new update is pushed out and it’s been going on for years now.
    JonDiesel
  • Reply 15 of 15
    This library bug has plagued me for years and is Terrifying.
    I’m at 5,500+ movies and also 500+ unique tv shows.
    I am on my umpteenth support case to Apple and they always go stale with no resolution.
    I’m so scared all my purchases will just vanish since the Library in the TV app does absolutely nothing for me in iOS or iPadOS or MacOS.

    I wish I could do something in light of Apple’s inaction to fix the bug for me. I am on 17.1.1, for example, on my iPhone. No library still.

    My only consistent hope has been successfully using the iTunes movies and tv shows apps and even then, only on the Apple TV box.
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