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

Is ABC.com Easy to Use or Not?

November 11, 2008 10:54 AM

This weekend a local friend emailed me to say she had accidentally deleted “Grey’s Anatomy” from her TiVo and to ask if she could come watch it at my house if I had recorded it.

I reminded her that I don’t have a traditional DVR because I don’t have traditional cable service anymore, but that the Internet is now my DVR!

I suggested she go to ABC.com and watch the episode there as I had done. I’ve found the site quite easy to use, and ABC.com has also won awards for ease of use. But my friend wrote back and said she couldn’t find the episodes. I explained that you simply click on the link for “full episodes” and then “Grey’s Anatomy.” She tried that, but nothing worked. Her computer never gave her the option to watch in SD or HD in the full-episode player.

By and large I suspect ABC.com works just fine. But there are always glitches somewhere. So her experience led me to ask: What sites are you still having trouble seeing full episodes of TV shows on? What sort of problems do you run into on the sites? And have these challenges turned you off of online viewing?


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Comments (22)


oh my gawd - abc's full episode player still works great. i watch several shows on there every week.

but it's not abc.com but have them go to: abc dot go dot com


abc.com is BY FAR the best full episode player....cbs.com is 1998 style and nbc, fox and CW dont care to abc.com


I was actually complaining about it yesterday!
I used to find ABC.com very good, but the last couple of times I've tried it, nothing has happened. First you have to download their new whatever-it-is, and then it doesn't play, even in SD, even at the office (vs. home)!
I guess I could try abc.go.com, as the other poster suggests, but I'm dubious about that making much of a difference.


Oh, but I forgot to mention -- the ADS play great!


Have never had any trouble with ABC.com...and this season I am watching more online because I still like their shows but the storylines haven't made me drop everything and turn on the tv on certain nights like they have in previous years.

One little issue i'd still like them to fix is that the commericals are sometimes really loud.


Something spooks me about the player... it recognises YOUR LOCAL STATION'S LOGO. When I was using Data Card internet, through Cincinatti (with a Cinci IP Addy), but living in toledo... It knew to show "13abc" and not any other logo. Scarey!

As for the site working, it does take allot of resources and seems slower, since the update. I ALSO FOUND THAT IT WOULDN'T GO "FULL SCREEN." I wanted to watch it in full screen, but that dammed 13abc logo has to show in the upper right!

There is really no link on episode guides, etc... so you can read what's transpired to date of show.

abc.go.com has allot of work to do on the site. I also don't see the site as disabled friendly. If you cannot enlarge the screen to full screen, it's not ADA compliant. Persons with visual disablities, not to mention hearing disablilties, cannot correctly utilize the site.

For a company that is supposed to be so open minded, that's one thing I didn't see it being open about.

Don't get me going on bilingual, for spanish viewers, as seen on other TV stations.

So, overall: ** = 2 out of 5 stars

They have quite a bit of work to do.


While ABC certainly has the glitzier player, I think CBS, Fox, and CW all have more reliable players, particularly Fox and the CW. I rarely have trouble with those. CBS's has improved immensely from last year when I cringed if I had to catch something there. The player on Hulu is pretty decent too. I find that better than the standard NBC player. Overall, I have to say that I actually enjoyed ABC's older player better. It seemed more reliable.

Since I've been getting my entertainment solely from the web for awhile now this was a big issue for me last year. I dropped all of the NBC shows I was watching just because their player was so unreliable. Hulu may have been a gamble but I think it's really paying off. That's now my go to source if I'm looking for 22 minutes of entertainment.

Brian Bush:

There's no go-to content that's driven me to abc.com, but like Brett there are several sites I won't even follow a link to because they have a history of unreliability.

And like Lisa I find the ads are usually far more reliable than the actual shows. I try to temper that impression under the column of confirmation bias, though.

We have a relationship with ABC and Hulu (sorry, now CBS.... yet). It is a pretty simple A-Z interface and the "show pages" are Newest-to-Oldest and pop up the ABC full episode player right to the episode when you go to watch the video. Simple!

Here is the A-Z interface:


From a user POV, I think ABC.com's player is top-notch. They seem to have a strategy that while it differs from other networks, it is working for them.

I just wonder if/when some of the old ABC library content will be available -- happy days, mork & mindy, love boat -- have a dated myself? Maybe they don't own that stuff


OK, I have now tried ABC.com in standard definition and in HD, and NEITHER will play the show I want to see. Ads, however, still playing just fine.
AND to top it off, the darn thing usually gums up my computer so thoroughly that it crashes my Internet Explorer!
I now have 2 feedback tickets with them -- will let you know if anything comes of that.


I tried going through Frank Sinton's interface, and all I got was the same problem with a smaller viewing area.


you can watch your shows by logging on to
video.aol.com then click on TV shows they come up alphabetically choose your show and then when it starts click on full episodes if it is an ABC show the ABC full episode player will start it will play on this website even when it doesn't on others strange but true hope it works for you and you do not have to be an AOL member to do this


I have done everything the abc.com troubleshooter suggests, as well as read and followed advice from every website blog I can find, and still have trouble with the full episode player. I can play the first ad, the first section of the episode and the second ad. Then the player plays a split second sound at the start of the second section of the episode and crashes. It's always the same...on THREE DIFFERENT COMPUTERS using two different Comcast (broadband) connections, and either Internet Explorer or Mozilla FoxFire! It doesn't matter whether I start from hulu.com, abc.com or video.aol.com. I don't have time to watch the shows when they air, and I follow several of the ABC shows. This is becoming terribly frustrating since I get NO help by sending feedback to abc.com. I wish they'd go back to the old player...it worked just fine!


Ever since the update abc full episodes are real buggy I am running Vista on 2 different laptops that are fairly new so it is a problem with their site since I use to watch a lot of shows on their site before the update. I used to think they had the best player, but now I can't hardly get anything on their site to run past the 2nd commercial if I run fullscreen. I am having no problems running hulu,nbc.com,cbs.com full episodes.

I almost want to give up on abc shows online now since it has been over a month since it has worked right for me on a consistent basis, but is everyone with a problem running Vista?


I was also having the same problem—gray screen. Nothing happened. After weeks and weeks and WEEKS of trying to figure it out, I FINALLY got it to work!! YAY!!! I always knew my problem lay somewhere within the Flash Player settings and my Video settings, but everytime I tried to right click and change the settings for the Flash Player, it would freeze up on me.

(I don’t know if this applies to every version, but know that I’m using IE 7.0.5730.13 and the most recent (Version 10,0,12,36) of Adobe Flash.)

Go to another site, any random site using the Adobe Flash Player. Right click on the screen and select “About Adobe Flash Player.” Go to “Settings Manager” which can be found in the right column under Support. On the right hand column you will see this:

Settings Manager
—Global Privacy Settings Panel (Always ask)
—Global Storage Settings Panel (10MB, uncheck never ask again, check third party, check store common flash)
—Global Security Settings Panel (Always ask)
—Global Notifications Settings Panel (Uncheck)
—Website Privacy Settings Panel (Delete all the sites in the list, then change to always ask)
—Website Storage Settings Panel (Delete all sites in the list, uncheck “Never Ask Again,” set bar at 1MB)

Click on any of those and change the settings to what I have put in parenthesis. When you click on them, you are ACTUALLY changing the settings on your computer.

After doing this, I shut down and rebooted the computer. When I restarted IE, I was able to get the player running!! I don’t know which of the settings I changed made it happen, but it happened. I also made sure that “Enable Hardware Acceleration” under the Display Settings (which I was now able to get to when I right clicked without it freezing up) was unchecked.

I hope this works for some other folks…



Thanks, that worked for me!


Can't get the new site to work. Been trying to watch Bros & Sis for two days and can't get it to open for me. Get to Full episode screen and it comes up gray and nothing else happens. Just know Sunday night was one of the best shows and I can't see it. Very upset.


Alisa! Totally worked. I have been trying to find this solution for months! You are a goddess ...


I can't stand watching episodes with ABC's player. The audio and video are rarely in sync and the picture freezes up every 20 seconds or so. The online players on CBS, Hulu, or Netflix work fine for me but the ABC player is a nightmare.


ABC's episode player is the worst of the networks. It looks all spiffy but it stalls or freezes constantly.

Frankly, I think a bunch of Mac bigots designed it in order to make PC users insane!

I usually try to find the content on YouTube before the copyright police makes them take it down.

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