Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Duff: Networks make it easy to catch up with your favorite shows on the Web

Duff: Networks make it easy to catch up on your favorite shows on the Web

Last weekend I spent 23 hours watching the entire “Jericho” series. I watched the episodes on CBS.com, streamed live into my Web browser.

All three major networks are jumping on this bandwagon now, allowing viewers to watch episodes of their favorite shows on demand over the Internet.

NBC offers “Heroes” and “House.” CBS offers “Jericho,” “Big Brother” and three different flavors of CSI. They also stream their daytime soap opera lineup, if you’re willing to watch that sort of thing.

The browser plugins require a bit of installation, and streaming video requires a fairly quick Internet connection, but the quality is good, and you can’t beat the price.

The shows are supported by advertising – ads on the page and brief commercials before each segment of the program. Right now there’s only one sponsor per show, so in a typical hour you can expect to see the same commercial five times.

Most of America probably isn’t ready to watch television on a computer screen, but if you’re hooked on a series and need to fill in the gaps, the networks are on your side.

You can’t see every show in the lineup, and you can’t always go back as far as you’d like, but most of the big shows are there, and the networks are giving us more every day.

I’d like to give the big three credit for embracing new technology, but they’re actually a bit behind the curve. Internet users have been able to download TV shows for years now; it just hasn’t been easy (or legal) until now.

TV pirates use a protocol called BitTorrent to swap video files of their favorite shows. The files are large, the download speeds are erratic, and some shows can be hard to find. Swapping TV shows is also illegal, and your Internet provider may disconnect you if you get caught.

Throw all those drawbacks together, and watching commercials actually becomes the least painful option. It’s the kind of trend I like to see – networks making it easy to do the right thing.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 3, 2007 at 14:51

Posted in Columns, TV

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