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TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.

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Trial and Error



ABC.com Player Good for 'Grey's' Addict

September 25, 2006 9:54 AM

The big ABC.com streaming TV episode initiative returned Saturday Sept. 23 when the network bought back ad-supported, full-length episodes of its marquee shows to its Web site (http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=10738)

ABC is quite keen on this new venture, so I took it out for a spin on Sunday Sept. 24.

I open a browser window and type in ABC.com, just as the average user would. The Web site is a bit busy, so my eyes take a few seconds to adjust to the potpourri of information. My eye settles on a series of images that flash by every few seconds for various ABC shows, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

I click on the big arrow button for: “Watch episodes of your favorite shows. Now Available Free. Online.” It whisks me quickly to a neat, clean page with a black background. Images are neatly laid in two rows of online shows. A big button below says “Launch Now.”

That seems clear enough so I click on that.

Another page loads in about 10 seconds with the message: “Watch full episodes” and “Use the arrows to browse.” The arrows take me across the scroll of show images. I feel like ABC is making me jump through a few hoops – pages – to get to the player, but at least they load quickly and are easy to navigate.

Naturally, I opt for “Grey’s Anatomy.” As a recent convert, I’ve enrolled in the total immersion plan – I’m consuming the first two seasons on DVD at a rapid fire rate, reading news articles on the actors and I even bought the soundtrack to season two last week.

Since I have already watched the season three premiere, I select the Grey’s “sneak peek,” which launches me into a short “brought to you by Home Depot” message and then the video itself. The play plays easily with the advertiser’s logo remaining above it. I watch a few minutes and then dash out to test some other videos, including the behind-the-scenes special, presented by Visa. While here I test out the scroll bar to see if I can fast forward. But when I try to, it brings up a message letting me know if I jump to the next section, I’ll see an ad. OK, I can live with that. Once I watch a Visa spot, I’m free to jump around and I gleefully move the scroll bar back and forth. That tells me the Visa spot was my price of admission for full functionality.

I do wish I could fast forward and rewind more easily. But I can live with the ads, especially since the commercial-free iTunes is no great shakes these days.

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