And now for something much lighter...
ABC, as previously announced started streaming entire episodes of several of there shows on the Internet today. These episodes are the entire episode with a couple of commercials thrown in. The idea behind their technology is that you can fast forward and rewind the episodes, but not skip the commercials. I was at first hesitent about this. I figured they would require you to download some kind of video player in order to watch them. It turns out I was wrong.
I decided to try out this feature by watching the latest episode of 'Lost'. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it works. The video streaming is done entirely inside a browser window, with apparently no special video player required. There were no pauses or other signs of lag in the video. The sound quality and picture quality were both quite good. What was the most surprising was how few commercials there were. In the entire 43 minute episode there was maybe 3-4 30 second 'web commercials' scattered throughout the video. This commerical works as follows. You start playing the video. The video plays for a while and then stops. A button appears that you click on to move on to the commercial. The commercial shows up as a web page with some voice over. Then when the commercial is done, another button appears that you click on to continue the show. It was only a single 30 second commercial at a time. All in all, it was about 2 minutes of commercials in a 43 minute episode. Not bad at all.
I think ABC has a potential winner here. By providing customers with the ability to see their shows whenever they want, they are actually increasing their viewer potential. If you can sample a show at any time and not need a VCR/DVR, whatever to do it, it really opens up new possibilities. Right now it appears that they are only showing 4 shows, and then only the latest episode of each show. If they expanded this to the entire series of each show, then I would definately be spending more time on their site. I've been interested in 'Lost', but never wanted to spend the money on an expensive season pack. If I could sample the episodes this way, I'd be much more likely to add it to the DVR as a regular 'must-see TV' show.