ABC to improve its online video player; Hulu to still be better

As I mentioned the other day, I use Hulu quite often to watch some of my favorite shows online. Judging from the usage data, so do a lot of other people.

Television network ABC however does not have content on Hulu. You can search for it on the site, but to watch you must go to ABC.com and use the ABC player. The experience, when compared to Hulu, is awful.

ABC is trying to change that perception by unveiling a new online video player. It will allow for full-screen playback, closed captioning and perhaps most importantly, the ability to embed video on other sites — or so it claims. NewTeeVee is reporting that ABC.com won’t actually allow for true embedding of content and will instead provide code that embeds a link to open its player in another window. I have one word for this: Lame.

Hulu has allowed for actual embedding since its launch and it is a nice feature. You’d be hard-pressed to find an online video service out there today that doesn’t allow for embeds of some kind. I foresee ABC relenting on this and eventually allowing it.

The new player will be tested over the summer before launching for the new fall season of shows.

Using the current ABC.com player results in the following experience:

First of all you have to agree to an End User License Agreement (EULA) to access the player. Then you have to install a Java applet. Then there is a significant loading time for the content after which you have to hit another button assuring your computer is up to par (for HD content at least). The advertisements are a lot longer than they are on Hulu, and more intrusive. It’s just a bad experience all around.

ABC was the first of the major networks to launch an online video player in 2006. It is the dominant singular network streaming site, according to Reuters. However, with the speed at which Hulu is growing, ABC.com could soon be an afterthought. Hulu simply offers much more content (it has content from a few different networks and cable channels, as well as some feature films) in a more accessible way.

While the new player should be an improvement, I have a much easier suggestion for ABC: Partner up with NBC and Fox and get on Hulu, now.


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