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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



SciFi's A+ Webisode Scheme

September 6, 2006 5:13 PM

That was almost too easy. I found Web video that worked – well and immediately.

To build buzz for the Oct. 6 premiere of its signature series, Sci-Fi Channel debuted the first of 10 Webisodes for “Battlestar Galactica” online last night. They post Tuesday and Thursday evenings at scifi.com and, big drum roll, they play like a charm.

I entered Scifi.com in my Internet browser and on Wednesday morning, Sept. 6, and the episode played immediately. An embedded video player plays a crisp, well-produced four-minute video with actors from the cable show. Plus, the Web site includes a big bold message telling visitors that new Webisodes will post online at midnight ET every Tuesday and Thursday. The message is one of the best features of the Web video experience because it answers that all-important question for the viewer – when should I come back?

My only concern was whether site users who don’t want to watch the video will be able to easily navigate to other sections, since the Webisode comprises the bulk of the home page. However under the video player and the schedule for upcoming Webisodes is a link to “continue to Scifi.com.” I click on that and I arrive at the traditional Sci Fi site with information on shows and the network as well as another clearly marked link to the Webisodes.

Here’s one of the big reasons why the SciFi Webisodes get an A+ for user experience: Sci Fi made a specific choice to showcase the Webisodes. The network didn’t merely insert a link somewhere in the middle of its home page. Instead, SciFi decided that anyone coming to its site would have the chance to see the videos. The videos were easy to find and easy to play. Most important, the site posted clear information on the availability of such videos. Everyone should check this one out.

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Comments (2)

these webisodes dont work any more :(

Anna:

I have never been able to play any of the video content on scifi.com since they switched over to this embedded video player. I learned (not from SCIFI) that it was only compatible with windows and now they've finally opened up to Flash 8 but my operating system (a mere 5 frickin' years) is too old for Flash 8 so that doesn't help me. Emailing SCIFI.com only gets one nothing. It's a great big black hole. I'd like to point out to the producers of shows on SCIFI that locking people out like this is, oh, stupid. People might stop watching your shows or might never watch them in the first place because they can't play the clips. These forced, exclusionary, and unnecessary (I was able to play videos just fine pre-embedded video player) software upgrades are really starting to irritate me.

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