Monday, October 29, 2007

NBC - Almost a Good Online TV Experience

I applaud NBC for providing a huge amount of TV content on the web for free (streaming at least). I'm pretty good about recording my shows, but this week my cable went out and therefore I missed a bunch of my favorites. In the past, I have watched episodes online at without much trouble and was pleased with experience - high quality video resolution, low buffering times, clean flash player experience, light on commercial interruptions.

Where the flaws get exposed though is when you try to move that experience to your living room. I have a graveyard in my basement with headstones for a myriad of devices designed to move PC-bound content to your home theater (with the honor of my earliest/first such device being the "Audiotron" from Turtle Beach). I've now simplified my set up a bit by simply taking my MacBook down to the basement, plopping it down next to the TV and running a DVI-to-HDMI cable to my TV and mini-jack to RCA to my stereo. Decidedly low-tech but works great for this purpose.

So, back to my story.... I did this to watch a bunch of missed NBC shows this week. Easy enough.... click play, select "fullscreen" and then go sit on the couch. Now the problems... there was 1 pre-roll ad and 5 commercial breaks during the show. I don't fault them for that at all. The problem is that every time it hit a commercial it would kick out of full-screen mode back into normal size (oh yeah, and I had to stand there waiting for the 30 second pre-roll to end before I could select "fullscreen" to begin with). So, 5 times during the show I had to get up, walk across the room and reselect "fullscreen". NBC, if you are listening, please fix this - I can't imagine it's a hard problem to solve.

Problem #2... I was watching Friday Night Lights (apparently the target demo for that show is middle-aged women) and I got the *same* ad every single commercial break (Dove Body Wash). C'mon, I had just watched The Office and 30 Rock... is that all they could come up with to advertise to me?

TV online has come a *long* way... but still has a little bit further to go. I've signed up to get on the beta for Hulu, let's hope they can get us a bit closer.

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