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GreenCine Movie Talk
TV
By popular demand, a forum devoted to Mr. Philo T. Farnsworth's remarkable invention.
93

TV online
Topic by: hamano
Posted: February 11, 2007 - 9:36 AM PST
Last Reply: February 11, 2007 - 9:36 AM PST

author topic: TV online
hamano
post #1  on February 11, 2007 - 9:36 AM PST  
Peekvid is offline and it's getting harder to find videos on YouTube and DailyMotion... but the TV networks are starting to show full episodes of shows. As far as I can tell, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX and CW all have some kind of streaming video online.

Right now FOX has the best setup for viewers. They're putting their videos up on MySpace, which makes sense because that's part of the Murdoch empire. Go to http://www.myspace.com/fox. I went there to watch "24" and it was much nicer than YouTube... actually the video quality was probably as good as a bittorrent download!

FOX - Pros
Their most popular shows are archived... you can watch any episode, not just the latest one.
They have two screen sizes, small and large. Even with the large size the video flowed smoothly without stuttering or buffering breaks.
Best of all, the full episode plays all the way through without commercial breaks. There is a very small ad for Chase Bank above the viewscreen, just a logo really, that stays on throughout the show, but it wasn't at all annoying.

Cons
I can't think of any, except that there's no "full screen" option. Of course YouTube and one of the network sites had "full screen" but those just expand the small screen to fill up your monitor, so the resolution really sucks. The FOX stream at the large setting really played like an .avi file from my desktop would, so I can't complain.

The next best online feed is probably from ABC. Go to http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing ... They have a fancy interface for picking a show, but it's more flashy than useful. I watched the latest episode of LOST. Only the latest episode was available.

ABC includes 6 or 7 commercial breaks in the stream, with 30 second ads. The stream for an hour long episode is actually broken up where the broadcast commercial breaks were. The stream stops at those points, loads a separate stream of the commercial, then loads the next episode segment. The gaps between these stream blocks were short but annoying. Needless to say, the commercials themselves are annoying... I much prefer a static ad next to the viewscreen like FOX. The ABC video stream also had two size settings, and I think the large setting was smaller than the FOX one. Nevertheless the stream was constantly interrupted for buffering and seemed to skip a lot of frames during heavy action (like the fight where Kate and Sawyer break loose from the bear cage).

I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother on the CBS site. Go to http://www.cbs.com/innertube/ then click on "All Shows". This loads a window that lets you navigate to the show you want to see through a menu/index structure. Only the latest full episode was available, and the stream wasn't the best size or quality. This site DOES have a "full screen" option, but the resolution is the same so the quality does not improve. But it's handy if you want to watch from across the room, if you're eating your lunch or something. In addition to the latest episode there were also bonus content available for viewing, like interviews with the cast members.

I watched an episode of Heroes on the NBC website. It can be accessed from http://www.nbc.com/Video/rewind/ - several of their shows are available as full episodes there, but many popular shows can only be seen as 2 minute recaps. Fortunately the most recent Heroes episode was available as well as the 4 previous episodes and the pilot episode from last season. The video quality was just fair. The stream was a bit short of smooth. There is a full screen option, and you can switch back and forth between small and full screen at any time by using the ESC key. The "full screen" was of course just an expanded version of the small screen at the same resolution. NBC had an interesting feature where you can watch the latest episode of Heroes with cast commentary. This mode shows you two screens, one with the show and one with a shot of two cast members wearing headphones and watching the show while talking. You can make one screen big and the other screen small, and one audio loud and one audio low. Full screen is disabled in this mode.

There is also a CW site at http://video.cwtv.com/ but I haven't tried it yet.

Please post your own impressions of these sites, and any other sites you have tried. I haven't looked at the Sci-Fi channel site, for example, but I imagine they have some content available.

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