First Look: ABC.com’s Ad-Supported Streaming “Experiment”

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abc.gifDisney’s latest experiment in online video officially began overnight with single episodes of four prime-time shows: “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Alias” and “Commander in Chief.” The ad-supported streaming is set for a two-month run — and one of those months is May sweeps.
Initial take: It doesn’t look or feel like an experiment. May be one or two clicks too many at the start but so far nothing that should keep a novice user away. One wish: that it would be as easy to gauge the impact on advertisers and affiliates as it is to use.
I took a look using my highest-end desktop — a dual core Pentium with an 18.1 inch screen — and an ethernet connection. The Flash player launched easily in Firefox. Post launch the first step is to select a show and wait for it to move to the center. Clicking again zooms into the image; it takes yet another click to play. The video stream of the Apr. 27 episode of “Commander In Chief” started immediately with an announcement that this episode is brought you with limited commercials. (AT&T and Tylenol showed up as single-episode sponsors as I watched parts of three shows.) An expanded menu can be opened to see more info about the show. Commercials are marked on the progression bar and can be started manually. A small box in the bottom right tracks the time and then switches to a reminder to click to continue watching the show. Users can switch to other shows from within the player; I was watching the latest episode of “Lost” within minutes. Not as fast as clicking through TV channels but not onorous. Screen size can be toggled easily — no full screen but a lush, larger image. I switched to the small Sony laptop using WiFi. Still good although not as high-end viisuslly. No buffering blips. Also, due to rights issues, no international access.
Another view: Newsvine’s Mike Davidson, who worked on the project before leaving Disney, is beyond excited by the results: “No more PVR-induced BitTorrenting for me â

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