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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



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.

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