Using Crave With Ad-Blockers
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In today’s online world, there’s an ongoing conflict between content creators who want (and deserve) to make money from their projects, and the end users who are tired of being inundated with ads and having their privacy and personal security breached by tracking networks aimed at following their every move online.
There are many valid reasons to use ad-blocking software, but that’s not what this post is about. That’s a discussion for another time : )
Since I do employ ad-blocking software personally, I often run into (sometimes strange) problems on various websites. Sometimes the add to cart/checkout page will not work, sometimes videos will not stream, etc. It can take a bit of time and troubleshooting to figure out just what is not working.
I recently encountered a weird problem with the new redesign of Crave (formally CraveTV), Bell Canada’s online streaming platform. I wasn’t sure what the cause of the problem was at first, as I was using Chrome/Firefox on Linux. While that shouldn’t make any difference, sometimes websites perform browser/OS detection and only allow things to work if you’re using Windows and/or MacOS.
After some troubleshooting, I narrowed down the problem to my Pi-Hole DNS Ad-Blocker. I’m not going to go into many details about Pi-Hole at the moment, as that’s also a topic for a future post, but essentially Pi-Hole allows you to do DNS ad-blocking so that you can perform ad-blocking for every device on your network. No browser extensions required : )
The videos below will probably explain this better than I can in writing, but essentially there were two different, but related, problems.
Problem 1: Unable to select seasons greater than 1 while browsing
“Browsing” to a show by using the categories on the main page will open the series information dialog box with season 1 already selected. You are able to choose episodes to play in season 1, but if you try to choose any other season it would redirect you back to the main Crave page.
Problem 2: Unable to select season 1 when viewing a show from the search dialog
Opening a show by using the search box will not have any seasons selected. You are able to select all seasons (and their episodes) after season 1, however, nothing will happen if you try to select season 1.
I came to discover that both of these problems were caused by one particular DNS name being blocked by my Pi-Hole server:
Fixing this problem is as easy as finding this domain in your query log in the Pi-Hole, and clicking on the “Whitelist” button.
Once the domain was whitelisted in the Pi-Hole, I just reloaded the Crave page and was able to select all seasons/episodes normally, as you can see in the videos below.
Note: While I only had to whitelist this one domain in order to fix the problems above, it’s possible that other domains I already have whitelisted (from previous internet travels) could also cause Crave to not work properly. As such, below is a list of all the domains I currently have whitelisted. Some of these may apply to Crave while others may not.
The following domains are also whitelisted on my Pi-Hole:
If you have any questions/comments please leave them below.
Thanks so much for reading ^‿^