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.


Trial and Error

October 2006 Archives

Eureka! The OC on MySpace a Cinch to Find

October 31, 2006 5:08 PM

Last week Fox said it would make the season premiere of "The O.C." available on both MySpace.com and on the 24-Fox-owned local television-station Web sites on Oct. 26 (Fox to Debut 'O.C.' on Web Ahead of On-Air Premiere).

I open MySpace.com and look around on the home page to see what’s there and if I can find “The O.C.” I spot on the lower right hand corner a link for “Justice.”

That’s a Fox show, so I click on it to see what happens.

And, drum roll….it works! It actually brings me to a page with “The O.C.”

The pause button works just fine and I switch in and out of full-screen mode seamlessly. I use the scroll bar to move the show forward several minutes. That works too.

And then I check out the Fox local station in Los Angeles, Fox 11.com. In the middle of a page is a link for Fox On Demand. I click on it and it whisks me to a list of Fox shows, including “The OC.” And once again, the show starts right away and plays perfectly.

So there you go. Now I’m going to wait for results, if Fox reports them. My bet—the number of streams will be pretty darn good.

Love the Big Buttons on VOD Service HealthiNation’s Broadband Site

October 30, 2006 3:00 PM

Emerging video-on-demand network HealthiNation, which provides health-related videos and information, launched a beta version of its companion broadband service recently.

During my visit to healthination.com, the site includes a featured video on breast cancer since October is breast cancer awareness month. I click on that one first — it’s located smack in the center of the page with a nice big fat “play” icon that launches the video player. The site is powered by online video technology partner Brightcove.

An ad runs first and then I watch a few minutes of a three-minute clip. When I test the pause feature, the video does something pretty cool. Yes, it pauses without trouble — often an astonishing feat unto itself — but an image also appears as an overlay on the video screen with the options to “email this,” “resume” or “get link.” It’s a neat feature — basically a visual reminder of all the things I can do with the video. These cues are still helpful in the early days for online video.

I have to say, I don’t spend a lot of time on the site because, frankly, sometimes I just like to put my head in the sand. But if someone is looking for health information in a video form, then HealthiNation’s broadband service has got that with a host of well-produced, professional quality clips that are easy to find and play.

My Fight With Amazon Unbox

October 27, 2006 11:55 AM

Remember all those nice things I said about Unbox yesterday? Well, I’m taking 'em back. All of 'em.

So just to recap, I bought “Never Been Kissed” from Amazon Unbox. Amazon kept telling me for two-hours that the movie was downloading. But it never did, because apparently I had just oh too many other videos in the player. Yes, I can see how a 30-minute show and a 60-minute show can take up all the space. So I had to delete my episodes of “Designed to Sell” and “The Nine.” And that gave me enough space to download the movie.

I start playing the movie, but since I really just want to see the final scene I hit fast forward. It works — for about one second. Because when I try to stop the movie, it won’t stop. The movie keeps playing on high-speed.

Stop, please stop! I hit the play button again.

Whew. Finally it stops. I watch a scene. I get bored. I fast forward again.

And then it starts. Like a runaway train, Unbox starts spinning out of control. I want to see the good scene, though, so I hit the play button to get the movie to stop. No go. I hit fast forward. That doesn’t stop it. I try the escape button on my computer. I try the little X button on Amazon Unbox.

I hit more buttons. I try control/alt/delete.

I hit every button on the keyboard. And the movie keeps going.

Mayday, Mayday!

Finally, I do the thing the only thing I can do. Hard stop. Yep, I just hit that off button and shut everything down.

But you know what? When I turn it back on, at least I can write this, so I feel like maybe, just maybe, I won this battle.

And then I uninstall Amazon Unbox.

Amazon Unbox Revisited

October 26, 2006 2:24 PM

Faithful readers may recall my first visit to Amazon Unbox more than a month ago resulted in a so-so user experience. But Amazon believes in relentless improvement, so let’s see how it rates today.

I launch the icon for Amazon Unbox from my taskbar and click on the shop button. That takes me to the Amazon Video Store online and features previews for Showtime’s “Weeds” and the movie “Garfield: Take of Two Kitties,” among others. I browse around the site and notice it’s got a list of top sellers, just like iTunes. That’s always a fun feature as it satisfies certain voyeuristic instincts. (Showtime’s “Dexter” was tops.)

I don’t see any TV shows that interest me, so I opt for romantic comedies. I see a movie poster from the Drew Barrymore flick “Never Been Kissed.” Like I said earlier in the week, I like romantic comedies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyway, I watch the preview and it is a pretty cute movie. But it’s only a rental and the chances of me watching it in the allotted time frame are slim, so I pass.

I hit the link to “return to Unbox Video” and realize that the navigation, including this new link, is much smoother this go-round.

I scroll through the TV shows and opt to download ABC’s “The Nine.” After I complete the purchase, there’s a link to “more downloadable videos.” It brings me right back to the start. Indeed, Amazon did not include the link the first time so I’m enjoying my return visit much more.

So much more, in fact, that I do decide to rent “Never Been Kissed” after all.

You see, a positive user experience begets purchases.

CNN Pipeline No Longer Blackballed

October 25, 2006 1:34 PM

Whoever said you never get a second chance to make a first impression?
Well, on Trial and Error you do.

After my troubles with CNN Pipeline, the network offered to help me resolve the technical challenges. As you may recall, I had to uninstall Pipeline, CNN’s broadband service, in order to view videos on CNN.com.

It turns out—big surprise—I might have been part of the problem.

Here’s why. I’ve had a complimentary subscription to CNN Pipeline for about a year. But I have never used it, I admit sheepishly. When CNN Pipeline upgraded the service twice in the last year, I never downloaded those upgrades. Those upgrades would have eliminated the troubles I had yesterday.

So CNN sends me a link to download Pipeline again. The new player launches and it’s a cool-looking service with live feeds, on-demand videos and links to top stories. A news clip about a missing soldier plays. I look around for other videos and spot a story covering how the movie “Dirty Dancing” has been adapted for the stage.

Then I decide to try the search function. I search for “cats”—I always do. It’s my random search test term. However, nothing shows up. The Pipeline manager suggests I try “Iraq.” Aha. That does make a wee bit more sense. Still, nothing shows up. I close Pipeline.
In the meantime, I launch CNN.com in a separate browser window and click on a random video link. When I do that it re-launches Pipeline, which solves a problem I had yesterday. So that’s good.

Then I try both searches again— “Iraq” and “cats”—and both return several video results this time. I choose to watch a video about a cat who walks on its front paws only.
Here’s my conclusion. The service takes a little getting used to. You have to play around with it. But when you do, it’s pretty handy for news and amusement.

CNN Pipeline – Thumbs Down; CNN.com Video – Thumbs Up

October 24, 2006 12:47 PM

Late last week, CNN.com informed me that its video covering the network’s reports on the Iraq sniper videos had been streamed more than 1.2 million times by Oct. 20.

So I click on the link the network sent me, and a window pops up, asking me to install some sort of additional file from CNN Pipeline, the network’s broadband video service.

But the installation doesn’t work. I contact a network spokeswoman and she suggests I try CNN.com/video. The sniper clip is no longer featured on the home page on Oct. 23, but I browse other videos and click on a train plowing into a truck. Again, I am asked to install a file for Pipeline. I try again and continue to get error messages.

I choose to uninstall Pipeline and then see if I can watch the videos simply on CNN.com

But Pipeline won’t let me uninstall! So I restart the computer. I then am able to successfully uninstall Pipeline.

This time, I go straight to CNN.com and click on a video for ex-Enron chief Jeff Skilling’s 24-year prison sentence, meted out on Monday. (I just chose that video so I could use the word “mete.” I mean, how often to do you get to say “mete” in the TV business?)

And what do you know? A video player loads and launches immediately. The story runs and then segues smoothly into the next one on a death row decision related to a murder from 25 years ago. When that video finishes, a five-second countdown appears and then whooshes me right into the next video. The player even takes the time to inform me I can select another video.

Well, why not? There are three tabs listing top videos, related videos and “picks.” I choose top videos and watch a few seconds of that train/truck crash after all. Then I spot a browse button. I click that and it brings up a list of several videos in various categories.

Indeed, CNN.com is easy to navigate and offers several ways in and out of the video. It’s CNN Pipeline that I am blackballing.

Well, for now.

The Circuitous Path to Comedy Central’s Talking Animals

October 23, 2006 11:40 AM

Comedy Central announced the winner this week of its first ever online talent hunt, Test Pilots. ('Awesome' Video Deal)

I must confess I have already seen the winning video, “Awesome Friends,” and it’s pretty funny. Then again, it includes talking animals and I like to say my three favorite types of films are romantic comedies, epic romances and, naturally, anything with talking animals. So it’s in my wheelhouse.

However, when I watched the clip the first time, I simply clicked on a direct link that the network had sent me. Now I want to give the winner the proper Trial and Error treatment and pretend I am just a regular consumer visiting the site. No one will ever suspect me of being an undercover tire kicker.

So I go to Comedycentral.com. The site has a small, but visible video player for its broadband channel “Motherload” in the righthand corner. A clip from the show “Drawn Together” launches instantly. There’s also a link for “new videos” so I click on that to see if I can find “Awesome Friends.” But the player just disappears. So I hit the link again and the player reappears. Vanishing players – that’s a new trick.

Then I spot a link for “more videos.” That one does indeed take me to the full Motherload channel with the embedded video player and a list of videos. I don’t see the clip under the “what’s new” videos, but a menu above provides links to “TV shows,” “Web shows” and other kinds of videos. I try “web shows” and a thumbnail for “Test Pilots winner” is among the featured videos. Since I’ve already seen the clip, I try fast forward, which works fine and dandy.

The clip isn’t too hard to find. Still, I wonder why networks don’t promote the winners of new original content with more prominent placement. Maybe people are primarily watching TV shows, not the Web originals, when they go to network Web sites.

Baking Escargot Is Easy, Finding It Is Not

October 19, 2006 2:45 PM

Bravo launched a new Web-only series today tied into the current season of “Top Chef.” Called “Top Recipe: The Wong Way to Cook,” the webisodes premiere every Thursday and showcase the winning recipe from the episode the night before. That’s a pretty cool broadband extension, so let’s see how it works.

Bravo has been lauded for its Web strategy and making its site a true destination for fans. I can see why. There is a TON of content on the home page. That’s a good thing, but it’s also a little challenging to find the Web series. I often assume that if a network promotes a webisode via a press release, that the video will have the boldest placement on the site.

But that’s not the case. The site highlights exit videos from “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” as well as several blogs. There is also a list of videos from other shows.

Finally, near the bottom of the home page I spot an image for the Web series. I click on it and the video clip loads and plays easily.

Here’s my two cents. And take it for what it’s worth from someone who believes that if the universe intended for me to cook then restaurants wouldn’t exist, but this video needs to be much easier to find. It’s a great clip – for an escargot recipe -- and a smart tie-in, but I wouldn’t even know it was a video from the image on the home page.

CBS Stations Vids Work Like a Charm but Yahoo Needs to Highlight Them

October 18, 2006 12:20 PM

The CBS Television Stations deal to provide local news clips to Yahoo kicked in yesterday, so I make a visit to Yahoo.com and check out the news tab in the middle of the page. (Our news story: Yahoo, CBS Link Internet, Stations). It displays Bay Areas news since I live in San Francisco.

I don’t see any video icons, but strangely the list of local news stories includes items from “The Daily Journal,” a New Jersey publication. So something’s amiss from the start. I click on the link for “More bay area news” and that does indeed whisk me to a page that lists text stories from the San Francisco Chronicle on the left hand side with thumbnails for local video from KPIX-TV, the San Francisco CBS-owned station, on the right hand side.

Immediately, a window opens that includes an embedded player and a list of few dozen additional videos from KPIX. I check out some videos and test the features. Pause and play work without any problems. Then I hit the skip button and it jumps me instantly to the next video. I hit it again and bam — I’m into the next one.

This is kind of cool. I feel like I am fast forwarding through a newscast, just skipping to the start of each news story. I can also browse the thumbnails. I randomly start clicking on images and the videos load and play, 1,2 3.

I spot a search window and enter “cats.” That brings me a list of cat-centric videos, such as one on a cat show in Madison Square Garden from New York’s CBS-owned station WCBS-TV.

But I want to go back to San Francisco news and what do you know — there’s a link there for San Francisco.

I like this service because there are escape hatches everywhere. I can get in and out of the service and the videos quickly. Yahoo just needs to make them easier to find on the home page.

Guest Blogger Returns, Gives DisneyChannel.com Thumbs Up

October 17, 2006 11:42 AM

It’s been brought to my attention that my guest blogger experiment yesterday may not have given the guest the spotlight he deserved. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called, how shall we say, “controlling?”

So I let my five-year old son have another shot as the Trial and Error guest reviewer and I stay out of the way. My role is simply to ask questions and record his feedback as he drives the Disneychannel.com ship.

He sits at my desk chair and peruses the site. I suggest he click on the “Watch full-length episodes” link.

Up pops a preview in the video player for “Halloweentown.” I gotta admit, the Disney Channel movie looks pretty good.

As he watches I note that the layout is incredibly kid-friendly, with big buttons and images and background colors that you, I mean they, can change.

He scans the show images, taking his time before he clicks on “Lilo and Stitch: The Series.”

It takes about three seconds to load, but during that time frame, my son says, “It’s not working.” Talk about instant gratification.

I then urge him to try another show, so he chooses “American Dragon: Jake Long.” I suggest he hit the “add” button to add the show to the “My Favorites” list. He obliges, but it’s really that – obligatory. He’s content to just watch. So when I suggest he try one more show, he says, ‘I can’t stop watching it.”

Now that’s viewer loyalty.

I’d like to be a kid’s programmer. They don’t need to fiddle with the pause button. They don’t care if ads play. They don’t need to scroll through archives. They’re just happy someone is letting them watch TV.

The Kid’s In Control; Guest Blogger Tests TurboNick

October 16, 2006 12:36 PM

Greetings, TVWeek blog readers. You’re in for a real treat today. Today I have brought in a guest reviewer to help me report on Nickelodeon’s broadband channel Turbo Nick, since the cable programmer recently introduced some new features to the service. Fortunately, I keep a five-year old son around the house for this very reason.

We sit down together at the computer and go to nick.com/turbonick.

I ask my special guest blogger what his eye is first drawn to on the page — the icons for the show “Avatar.” We click through and find a list of 79 thumbnails that expand as you mouse over them, providing more info on the clip. The list includes both clips and full episodes of the show. You can arrange the videos by top rated, most viewed, title and date

But we experience some initial problems with the video. When I press the arrow key, it skips to some other “Avatar” video (I think). Then when I hit pause, it won’t start up again.

So my son says, “Let’s get a new episode.”

He chooses a new one. One of the super cool features of the site is you can actually drag and drop videos on top of the player, which is more fun that just hitting “play.”

I try to fast forward to the end of the show by moving the scroll bar all the way across but it won’t take. Rather than scrolling to the end of the episode, it only jumps us a minute or two ahead.

Nickelodeon makes a lot of its playlist capability, so I drag some “Jimmy Neutron” videos onto the playlist icon. But the shows don’t seem to stay there and I have trouble getting them started. I’m not sure how to play them.

Then I have an ‘a ha’ moment. Why don’t I just hand the controls over to my son and see what he can do?

Rather than try to play the video from the playlist, he simply drags it and drops it onto the video player and starts a “Jimmy Neutron” clip.

My conclusion is this: TurboNick could use some tweaks, but the user interface, design and cool way that videos pop out and move around should appeal to the younger crowd.

Pure Video Search Part Two, AKA Still Waiting …

October 13, 2006 11:40 AM

PureVideo told me the site changed certain aspects of its new video-search service based on the Trial and Error blog review on Oct. 2. So that means the site gets – you guessed it – a second chance.

I had initially reported several frustrations with the service such as links to videos that didn’t play, links that didn’t work, and top 10 lists that didn’t match up with the videos listed.

So I return to purevideo.com. This go-round, the links on the video lists do match up correctly. However, I still don’t get why the YouTube Top 10 lists videos with literally just a handful of views. I would think it would link to the most popular ones.

Next, I check out the actual search capabilities. Since entertainment news is so much more fun to search for than politics or other stuff, I put Madonna’s name in the search bar. I figure she should be timely because her adoption of a little boy has cleared its first hurdle, according to Google News.

The first link is to a Grouper video of “Justify My Love,” which loads and plays quickly. Next up is a YouTube video of some girl in her bedroom doing a Madonna impression. At least I think that’s what she’s doing. It’s hard to tell for sure. The next link is to a home-made YouTube video that’s a montage of Madonna pictures. Boring.

So I put the words “Madonna adoption” in the search bar. The first link is out of date. The next link doesn’t work either. It brings me to a blank page. The third link is for a Reuters video that does work and includes a quick update on Madonna’s interest in adopting an African boy. But the clip is from Oct. 11, and isn’t the most up to date.

So here’s my big prediction of the week, the month, the year: The site that finally figures out video search for real – that’ll be the site EVERYONE will want to acquire. And that’s the one that’ll be worth it’s weight in gold.

Innertube Still Works; NBC Apparently Too

October 12, 2006 11:01 AM

So I’m back on CBS’s innertube this morning to check out its original content. I click on the video link for “Hook Me Up,” an inntertube original that’s a reality dating show. I’ve never been a fan of reality shows, nor dating ones, but it’s actually kind of cute and surprisingly well done. I watch the final episode and the super short length helps. It clocks in around five minutes and the video quality is incredibly high. It doesn’t stop or stutter, the Dove ad plays easily and the video itself is crisp and professional looking. I kick the tires on a few of the other original shows such as “Road to Price” and “The Green Room.”

Everything works swimmingly, so CBS appears to have a winner on its hand. The only question is how many people are using the site and what are they watching?

I don’t know that answer for CBS, but I now know it for NBC. As you may know, I’ve had a bear of a time accessing NBC’s videos over the last few weeks until I finally hit pay dirt late last week. But apparently I’m the only one who’s had trouble at all. NBC announced this week that NBC.com delivered more than two million video streams in the first full week of the release of “NBC Rewind,” the player for its prime-time series. That’s the same week I couldn’t get it to work most of the time. So just imagine if I’d had better luck -- NBC could now report it had more than two million and one video streams.

Innertube’s Got a Lot of AT&T

October 11, 2006 10:59 AM

Today my magic 8-ball says go to CBS’s broadband site innertube.

Immediately, I’m drawn into the site at CBS.com/innertube. About three-quarters of the home page is occupied by an image for “The Unit.” Then a few seconds later it switches to an image of “Class” and then “How I Met Your Mother” and so on. At the top of each show image are the words “watch full episode now.” Straightforward and direct.

I opt for “The New Adventures of the Old Christine.” Another browser window opens listing links for full episodes, behind-the-scenes content and “next on the show.” We’re talking simple, easy navigation here.

On the right side are options for video-player settings. Truth be told, I’ve never really known which one I’m supposed to pick – Windows or Real. So I pick Windows. The video begins playing in an embedded player. A menu remains up on the right hand side with the listings for the other videos still up on the left, making for an easy exit if need be. There’s also a static ad for AT&T below the player.

The episode is split into four parts. I fast forward to the end of part one.

But then I’m kind of hanging out in a no-man’s land for 20 or 30 seconds. The screen is completely black with a message in the status bar that it’s “buffering,” which is just so 1990s dialup. Then, part two of the show starts up. I scroll to the end of that and am greeted with the same blank screen.

So I click on the video link below for “Class.” I scroll to the end of part one, but this time a short AT&T ad plays and then I’m right back into the show. No buffering this time. And I must confess, I’d rather watch the ad than the blank screen.

Tomorrow I’m going to check out the original content on innertube, such as “Hook Me Up.”

I Got NBC.com to Work!

October 10, 2006 11:01 AM

I’m diving in again. I’m going back to the NBC site to see if the ad-supported episodes are there yet. I’ve tried the site a few times with mixed results and I’m eager to give NBC another opportunity. After all, it can’t be that hard to post your shows online, right?

Here goes. I’m on NBC.com and there’s a link for NBC Rewind, urging me to watch full episodes online. An auspicious start.

The link transports me to an embedded player featuring a short ad for Cars.com and then the first seven minutes of “Friday Night Lights.” But I decide to check out “Heroes,” since that’s the one I opted for when I last tested the site on Monday Oct. 2. The show wasn’t available then.

But today the show starts playing right away in the embedded video window.

I notice under the player a series of six thumbnails – parts one through six of the episode. I fast forward through the first seven minutes to see what happens when I reach the end.

The good news is I don’t have to do anything. It immediately jumps to part two. But the catch is I have to watch an ad before I see the next seven minutes and so on and so on. It’s only one ad before each block and I can’t fast forward it.

Fair enough.

Trial & Error

October 9, 2006 12:55 PM

I interviewed ClipBlast CEO Gary Baker for our Digital Dealmakers column this week. So that means it’s time to test the video search service and see how it holds up. Mr. Baker had suggested I try a news story because news is among the most commonly searched for topics on video search engine.

Since my New York Yankees embarrassed themselves over the weekend with a loss to the Detroit Tigers in the American League division series, marking the sixth straight post season that my pinstriped boys have failed to claim a 27th World Championship, I decide to search for the Yankees.

I enter New York Yankees in the search bar and the first set of results includes an August CNN clip on the Yankees new stadium project, a February spring training report from CBS-owned WCBS-TV in New York and a “60 Minutes” piece on my boyfriend Derek Jeter.

Maybe I need to be more specific. I enter “New York Yankees lose to Detroit Tigers.” That yields an MSN Video piece on the Yankees game 2 loss to the Tigers last week and two more MSN stories on game 3 losses. That’s much better since these videos are more current, but still I had hoped to find results on the overall series and game 4 losses. However, all the videos play easily and the links work; i.e. they aren’t broken or to old or outdated pages.

For comparison purposes I go to Google to see what happens when I search for Yankees. Not surprisingly, the first several returns are for the Yankees home page. But when I go to Google News, I do get the most up-to-date news stories, such as articles on why manager Joe Torre should be fired.

This is what video search needs. When I go a video search engine—any of them—I should be able to enter Yankees and get the most recent videos about the Yankees, such as the post-game interviews and press conferences on the series loss as well as “60 Minutes” stories from the summer.

Revisiting NBC.com

October 4, 2006 6:15 PM

Everybody deserves a second chance.

After taking NBC.com to task in Trial and Error last week, I decide to visit the network’s Web site again. After all, the network was slated to introduce ad-supported, streaming episodes of its new shows on Oct. 1 (http://www.tvweek.com/news.cms?newsId=10742).

I arrive at NBC.com but am immediately distracted by a featured video for “The Office.” It’s one of only two shows I watch regularly so I click through and kick back to watch a series of deleted scenes from last Thursday’s (Sept. 28) episode. There’s some good stuff here – a conversation between Michael and Dwight on the train to Philadelphia, a scene where Dwight becomes fascinated with Josh’s coast guard background, and a short snippet featuring Jan getting dissed by Josh.

I can’t fast forward the video, but I like the show so I don’t mind. Then I watch an interview with Steve Carell.

I return to the main NBC page to address the task at hand – assessing the full-length online episodes. The online streaming is for new shows, so I select “Heroes.”

There’s a link on the “Heroes” page for Episodes. This is promising.

I click on it and up pops a button saying “coming soon.”

OK, I’ll check back. I hope you do the same.

Fox On Demand Videos Play Easily, but Service Needs Some Tweaks

October 3, 2006 3:33 PM

Fox now offers prime-time episodes of its shows on MySpace at MySpace.com/Fox.

But I decide to hunt for them first on the main URL because that’s what other consumers are apt to do. There’s no link or promo on the main page, so I click on the video tab and go to the main video page. Then I spot jpeg promoting Fox show “The Loop” on Fox on Demand right alongside the featured viral videos.

The site asks me to install the Fox Full Throttle video player. Generally, I think it’s a bad idea to make users install separate video players. We already have enough stuff downloaded onto our computers. Plus, embedded video players, like the one on ABC.com, work quite well.

However, I am pleasantly surprised when the installation takes less than two minutes. A 30-second ad for “The Saw 3” plays and then drops me right in the show. I watch a few minutes of “The Loop” and it’s actually not bad. I even laugh out loud when lead character Sam’s brother bounces off a trampoline and lands on his back. Then again, I’ve always been a sucker for “Jackass” style stunts.

I spot a button to make the screen full-size. But that’s where the consumer confusion starts. I can’t find an escape hatch to jump out of full-screen mode to the smaller size. What if my boss catches me watching TV shows in the middle of the day?

So I hit the escape button but that doesn’t do it. I hit back on the browser. But then I have to start the show over. I watch “The Saw 3” ad again, fast forward easily to where I left off and then make the screen full size again.

Then I see the issue. The button to return to the smaller screen size resides at the bottom of the player, which is below the scroll bar on the browser.

Overall, Fox on Demand works surprisingly well, but could use a little polishing.

Video Search Service Needs Work

October 2, 2006 12:32 PM

StupidVideos.com parent company PureVideo introduced its new video search service today. The free beta service at purevideo.com is both a search engine and a destination that aggregates and displays links for the most popular online videos. The site features, for instance, the top 10 viral videos from YouTube, comedy videos from StupidVideos.com, and news and sports clips from CNN and ESPN.

The site is organized neatly with its search bar in the center top and nine charts laid out across the page. I love this idea. It has great potential to be a one-stop destination to sort through the Web video clutter.

I click on the YouTube links, expecting to find LonelyGirl15, RednecksTV or other top-rated YouTube videos. Instead, I find a collection of strange, homegrown videos on beer calculations, a guitar player and a news report on Israeli violence that don’t correlate with the videos YouTube lists for its featured or most popular of the day or week.

I go back to the PureVideo homepage and click on a Beyonce video from the top music videos list. But then I am told to sign in to watch the Yahoo Music player. Like most consumers, I have no interest in signing in, signing on, or signing up, so I go back to the search engine.

The StupidVideos links work fine, naturally. I try the ESPN list next. A Web page asks if I want to launch an ESPN video player. But 30 seconds later the video hasn’t loaded. I try a CNN video, but the page is a text story rather than a video.

I try the search bar and enter the name of singer “James Blunt.” The results page lists a YouTube clip from a British awards show for a live performance of his song “You’re Beautiful.” The next video is a Buzznet.com clip of the video “Goodbye my Lover” but the quality is poor. Next, I try the YouTube link for the same video, but a YouTube notice says it has been removed due to copyright infringement.

The PureVideo search has loads of potential but a long way to go.