A number of Apple TV users are reporting that, when they try to play certain videos, they get messages saying:
This content cannot be played because its format is not compatible with the Apple TV
In a thread on Apple’s support forum, users are discussing what might be causing this. The Apple TV is compatible with the following video formats:
- H.264 video up to 1080p, 60 frames per second, High or Main Profile level 4.2 or lower
- H.264 Baseline Profile level 3.0 or lower with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
- MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats
It seems, that in some cases, the issue is the bit rate used to rip DVDs or Blu-Rays. One forum poster reported the following:
- Works: Low Complexity, MPEG-4 video file, 1079 kbps, 720 x 304, MPEG-4 video codec
- Does Not Work: Low Complexity, MPEG-4 video file, 1296 kbps, 720 x 404, MPEG-4 video codec
- Works: Low Complexity, MPEG-4 video file, 4380 kbps, 720 x 540, H.264 video codec
- Does Not Work: Low Complexity, MPEG-4 video file, 2026 kbps, 720 x 540, MPEG-4 video codec
I have to say, ripping videos has always seemed to be a black art. When you look at the settings in Handbrake, it’s not clear what is the best way to rip a video. I’ve always just used High Profile, and I’ve never – yet – had any problems. I have Blu-Rays that I’ve ripped with that profile that exceed 6000 kbps, and they’ve always worked fine; I’ve tried some on the new Apple TV, and I haven’t had any issues yet.
But there are also different codecs. Unlike music, where the codecs don’t change very often, video compression is constantly being improved and tweaked. The new Apple TV has, in particular, a limitation regarding what types of videos using the MPEG-4 codec. But I doubt many people have used MPEG-4 in a very long time. If you do use have videos encoded with MPEG-4, you may need to convert them to H.264, which seems to be the codec that will be supported the most for a while. (Though the newer H.265 is available).