Saturday, January 20, 2007

Watching TV Online—CW, CBS and ABC

With the announcement that the CW is now offering streaming video, I of course had to rush over and check it out. Available are episodes from Beauty and the Geek, Supernatural, One Tree Hill, Veronica Mars, Everybody Hates Chris, Girlfriend, All of Us, and The Game. Unfortunately, there's only a select few episodes from each show. That's too bad, because I'd be interested in catching up with Veronica Mars.

I was a bit put off at first when I clicked and was asked to download a player. But the player the CW is using has been the best by far of any I've tried so far at the other network websites. It plays smoothly, and the picture quality is good. My only quibble is that there isn't a full screen option--the full-screen button makes the player full-screen, but doesn't increase the size of the actual viewing area by much.

I've also tried the streaming video at CBS and ABC. CBS worked relatively well. The shows run in RealPlayer, so I could click on the RealPlayer icon to shift them to a true full-screen. However, the picture quality isn't quite good enough for full-screen viewing. In addition, I had trouble from time to time with the player stalling between sections (each episode is four sections, with a short commercial between each one). On the last episode, "Vox Populi," it was so bad I finally gave up about 2/3 through. Fortunately I had that episode on the DVR, so I was able to finish up.

ABC was even worse. Their player stalled repeatedly, until about halfway through an episode of Brothers and Sisters it decided not to give up the goods at all, and I had to miss the rest of the episode. If I go back and try again, I'll have to start at the beginning, too, which is frustrating.