ABC Broadens Its Online Presence with Veoh Networks Deal
The New York Times reports today that ABC is the latest TV network to jump into the IPTV pool, making a deal with Veoh Networks to make full episodes of "Lost" seasons 1, 2, and 3 (all in HD streaming, no less!), "Desperate Housewives," and "Ugly Betty," as well as highlight and game highlights from ESPN available.
Although the Internet is becoming crowded with both clips and complete TV shows from TV's past and present, ABC's approach differs from most of its competitors.
Proprietary Player for Better Quality
ABC uses a proprietary player it developed in conjunction with Move Networks, Inc. for both its AOL-hosted and new Veoh-hosted content. This player, which runs on Windows or MacOS and requires the user to install a plug-in, enables ABC to offer some shows, such as "Lost," in full-screen streaming HD.
Streaming HD looks great on a widescreen display, but as you might suspect, it requires a recent PC (dual-core CPU, 128MB of video RAM, 1GB of system RAM, 1300x770 screen resolution) and a 2Mbps or faster Internet connection for best results.
So, how much better does Streaming HD look in full-screen mode? Read on to find out for yourself, and to find out where to find dozens of your favorite TV shows online.
See for Yourself: Streaming HD Versus Web-Based Player
Although you can switch web-based players used by Hulu and other sites to run in full-screen mode, their quality drops, as you can see in this screen capture comparing the ABC/Move Networks streaming HD player (left) and Hulu's web-based player (right), both running in full-screen mode.
More lifelike detail and virtually no compression artifacts make Streaming HD, like broadcast or cable-delivered HDTV, a better-quality TV experience.
Why Are the Networks Going to the Web?
As we've chronicled here from time to time, Internet TV is more than a curiosity: it's become an increasingly important way to reach a media-savvy audience that likes to get its media online as well as via TV. And, as ABC's offering of streaming HD indicates, users are looking for more than a web-based version of Nick at Night vintage TV or a few clips from their favorite TV shows: they're looking for fresh, recent content.
The networks benefit by drawing new viewers to current shows, drawing fans to sample content before buying DVDs of their favorites, and making sure that they're not left out as eyeballs migrate from TV to the web.
You benefit by being able to watch TV on your PC while checking out the episode's details on IMDB TV or TV.com, making sure that you really want to buy that DVD set that's on sale this week at the electronics store, and proving that multi-shirking (the slacker's version of multi-tasking) is better than ever.
ABC, like other networks, continues to use the verable advertiser-supported ("sponsored by") model for its web-based content, and its player is designed to make skipping the commercials difficult.