Taking TheWB.com for a Test Run
August 26, 2008 7:00 PM
I’m going to confess something: I’ve never seen the first episode of “Friends.” Or, really, any episodes for that matter. I just never got bitten by the “Friends” bug.
But now I have seen the first five minutes, and I’ve seen it online, because the show is being carried on TheWb.com, which goes live to the public Wednesday morning when Warner Bros. Television Group launches the site.
The site is billed as an ad-supported, interactive, video-on-demand network that includes full episodes of the show that defined the now-defunct WB network, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Everwood” and “Gilmore Girls,” as well as newly acquired series such as “Babylon 5” and “Firefly.” The site will feature original Web programs, too.
I had the chance to check out a sneak preview of the site for the press. There’s a lot to like about the site, but like most beta projects, it needs some work.
The good news is the videos look sharp and load quickly. Most are relatively easy to find—that’s one of the benefits of offering a selection of shows rather than everything under the sun.
The site lists about 20 shows under the “shows” tab on the home page. When you click on a show, like “Friends” (which also is available on Hulu.com), the site will bring you to a video player and an episode list. The caveat is that TheWb.com, like most video destinations, does not feature all the episodes at once. This is similar to Hulu, and even to video-on-demand from the cable operator, where you’ll find a smattering of episodes at any given time from a particular program.
In this case, TheWb.com is featuring half a dozen episodes from the iconic sitcom, including the premiere. So I saw the wet bridal dress moment finally (How did I ever live without “Friends”?).
I toggled between full-screen popout player and embedded player options. All worked fine, though I felt as if I missed perhaps a second or two of the action while switching.
I do wish Web video destinations would make it clearer that they don’t feature all the episodes at once. I understand that offering 100 or more episodes from one show is cumbersome, so I think Web sites should simply explain what they offer at any given moment, because viewers often want or expect them all. A simple disclaimer or explanation would help immensely.
The search functionality on the site lets you search by several parameters. If you’re looking for a word or a phrase, you can search according to the show, season, episode and even character.