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Free TV on the Net
May 1, 2006 8:36 AM   Subscribe

ABC Streams full episodes of Lost, Alias, Desperate Housewives and Commmander in Chief for free in May via flash.
posted by blue_beetle (54 comments total)

 
"Only viewers in the United States can watch these full-lenth episodes."
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:38 AM on May 1, 2006


I just sorta assume that at this point. At least it doesn't require Windows Media Player, though.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:45 AM on May 1, 2006


I'm impressed, I imagined something much less flexible than their current offering. The shows are divided into four sections, and between each section, there is a 30 second ad. Once you watch an ad, it removes the barrier between those two sections, and you can fast forward and rewind at your leisure. In fact, you can put in 90 seconds before you start the show, watch all the ads, and then watch the entire program completely uninterrupted, being able to jump around with complete freedom.

The video quality is fairly good also, definitely better than iTunes, but not quite DivX from Bittorrent. Another benefit over iTunes is that it's widescreen, not cropped.

Now if there were only a way to make it full screen...
posted by AaRdVarK at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2006


This will come in handy when I decompile it to make sprites. I'm making a 2D scroller wherein John Locke and Sydney Bristow fight and army of scrawny old bitches.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2006


Mikey-San: Nope, doesn't require WMP. In fact, I'm using it on my Mac. Since it's just Flash, I wouldn't be surprised if it ran under Linux.
posted by AaRdVarK at 8:48 AM on May 1, 2006


Not quite free; for Alias at least there are "limited advertisements" sponsored by Tylenol.
posted by gac at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2006


They look really nice too. Roughly 500x280 widescreen. iTMS are 320x240, IIRC.

What does the icon on the far right do? I thought it would be full screen but it seems to do nothing.
posted by smackfu at 8:50 AM on May 1, 2006


The sponsor depends on the episode, you can watch the entire current season, and it looks like there's a different sponsor for each episode. I was impressed by the quality for streaming video. I'm sure someone will quickly figure out how to extract the video from the streams and distribute them via bittorrent.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2006


Mayor Curley, how can I pre-order your game? Will it be available via Steam?
posted by Plutor at 8:51 AM on May 1, 2006


gac : "Not quite free; for Alias at least there are 'limited advertisements' sponsored by Tylenol."

I think the "free" is in reference to monetary cost to the viewer, not monetary cost to the sponsor. But, true, Alias will not be free for Tylenol.
posted by Bugbread at 8:56 AM on May 1, 2006


I'm sure someone will quickly figure out how to extract the video from the streams and distribute them via bittorrent.

No point. These come out the next morning. The BitTorrent copies sourced from the HDTV feed are out before that. About the same quality too.
posted by smackfu at 8:56 AM on May 1, 2006


Mikey-San: Nope, doesn't require WMP. In fact, I'm using it on my Mac. Since it's just Flash, I wouldn't be surprised if it ran under Linux.

Doesn't, due to the fact that they're using Flash 8, which isn't available for Linux.

*sigh* Back to the ol' bittorrent client.
posted by signalnine at 9:01 AM on May 1, 2006


Interestingly enough, they seem to be taking a cue from Cartoon Network of all places: Adult Swim has been running free streaming episodes on "The Fix" for the last six months or so.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:02 AM on May 1, 2006


I think the "free" is in reference to monetary cost to the viewer, not monetary cost to the sponsor. But, true, Alias will not be free for Tylenol.

bugbread, are you actively asserting that watching ads costs me nothing, or have you just not thought of it that way?

The way they've structured their ads, according to AaRdVarK, creates an interesting conundrum: spend 90 seconds _actively_ watching ads and then be ad-free, or passively watch them as they come along. I think it's genius -- there aren't many things that would get me to watch ads actively (other than for deconstruction), but if I had any desire to watch ABC shows, I think this would do it.
posted by gurple at 9:05 AM on May 1, 2006


Sweet, it'll be even better when they do this with shows that I actually watch. And yes, I've avoided Lost on purpose.
posted by fenriq at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2006


gurple, yeah, that's why they are doing it in flash. Harder to skip the ad content.
posted by fenriq at 9:10 AM on May 1, 2006


Doesn't, due to the fact that they're using Flash 8, which isn't available for Linux.

Macromedia should just stop supporting linux altogether. Seriously. It wastes everybody's time.
posted by wakko at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2006


gurple : "bugbread, are you actively asserting that watching ads costs me nothing, or have you just not thought of it that way?"

Not that it "costs you nothing" (because that's a nebulous word trap), but that it's free. I can watch this without any money moving out of my bank account or my wallet. Sure, it may cost me time, or it may cost me effort, or it may cost me aggravation, but those aren't what "free" is being used to refer to. It's being used to refer to actual money (not RIAAstyle "lost potential revenue that could have been made had I been working during that time", but owned money), and the fact that your wallet has the same amount in it before you watch as after.

If that's not the definition of "free" that you want to use, then fine, but it's the definition that blue_beetle is using.
posted by Bugbread at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2006


Macromedia should just stop supporting linux altogether. Seriously. It wastes everybody's time.

I thought the whole point of linux is that some 14 year old in Finland already decompiled the flash 8 player and rewrote it as a more efficient and robust open source application that also will gene sequence for cancer research with your computers spare cycles.
posted by illovich at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2006


I think it's more likely to "cost" more to watch an episode of an ABC sitcom than it is to watch 90 seconds worth of ads. I do predict, however, a long and ridiculous discussion about how these ads are intrusive and wrong.
posted by trey at 9:21 AM on May 1, 2006


What, you "have to" watch the ads? Isn't it possible to mute the computer, pull up another window upfront, and completely ignore them? What are you people talking about?
posted by interrobang at 9:22 AM on May 1, 2006


how these ads are intrusive and wrong

Of all the people who've posted so far, I seem to be the most inclined to make a comment like that, and I'm certainly not about to. Advertising to adults while providing them with content they want isn't inherently wrong.

What, you "have to" watch the ads? Isn't it possible to mute the computer, pull up another window upfront, and completely ignore them? What are you people talking about?

It's a time/effort tradeoff. I can hit that ad and then pull up another window / turn down my speakers for 30 seconds and say "lalalalala", but if the ad is short enough it's not worth it to do so. I really think this is an excellent advertising strategy.
posted by gurple at 9:32 AM on May 1, 2006


Watching ads in exchange for entertainment is old hat, I heard that Matt is working on a way to make you watch a 90 second ad before you can complain about something.

LINUS TORVALDS, SIC SEMPER TYRANNUS!
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:32 AM on May 1, 2006


Shit. I'm not in the US and I can't torrent these episodes (because my @!#$@! uni's blocked all ports).


Anyone know of a way I can fool this page into thinking I'm in the States?
Please!?
posted by ruelle at 9:33 AM on May 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Anyone know of a way I can fool this page into thinking I'm in the States?
Please!?


Use a proxy server.
posted by signalnine at 9:35 AM on May 1, 2006


Anywhere the wind blows, it doesn't really matter to me...
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:37 AM on May 1, 2006



Macromedia should just stop supporting linux altogether. Seriously. It wastes everybody's time.


Supposedly, they've decided to skip 8.0 and are gonna be releasing 8.5 for Linux.
posted by signalnine at 9:38 AM on May 1, 2006


Macromedia should just stop supporting linux altogether. Seriously. It wastes everybody's time.

What?
posted by Mikey-San at 9:46 AM on May 1, 2006


Er, could someone websavvy-enough actually point me to directions on how to use a proxy server? I don't think I'm asking anything illegal, I'm just not in the US at the moment and would like to see particular episode.
posted by keijo at 9:48 AM on May 1, 2006


keijo
I bet you could ask metafilter something like that and get a good answer, I suggest including specifics of your OS and type of internet connection.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:51 AM on May 1, 2006


How about this, I hereby do redefine the definition of "FREE" in this FPP to mean: "By watching these episodes from the ABC website they will in no way atempt to bring legal action against you or your family, regardless of whether you own a computer or not, as one might have had the episodes been watched via Bittorrent, or various other legally-shady methods1." meaning "Free, as in free3 from LitigationTM".
1. not valid outside the continental United States of America.2
2. sorry Hawaii
3. In most cases, your mileage may vary.

posted by blue_beetle at 9:55 AM on May 1, 2006


Free stuff on the web? Is this something I would need a $1500 computer to know about?
posted by dhartung at 10:12 AM on May 1, 2006


yes.
posted by puke & cry at 10:37 AM on May 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Actually, I would rather not post this on AskMefi after the recent pileup in MeTa about piracy questions - but oh well, I might soon if nobody here knows (OS X 10.4.6, ADSL).
posted by keijo at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2006


dhartung, nah, you can know about it with a crappy $200 computer but it'll take you longer to learn it.
posted by fenriq at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2006


In my town, library cards are free (with proof of residency) and can be used to access the internet in 1 hour increments. I'm not sure if anyone else has heard about this, but I'm pretty sure the liberals are behind it.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:38 AM on May 1, 2006


surely there's some way people from outside the US can trick it into playing the vids. make with the tricks!!
posted by 6am at 11:41 AM on May 1, 2006


No Grey's Anatomy?! Useless, then. Bah.
posted by Dreama at 12:14 PM on May 1, 2006


Useless is right. If The Sopranos, Deadwood or Six Feet Under was available through an HBO feed, I would be on my knees thanking the Gods of television.
posted by disgruntled at 12:29 PM on May 1, 2006


Yeah, but a free HBO feed ain't gonna happen.
posted by smackfu at 12:53 PM on May 1, 2006


How to watch ABC TV streams outside the USA.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:03 PM on May 1, 2006


Well, I'm happy not to be paying iTunes $1.99 for Desperate Housewives episodes anymore, but the thing crapped out on me six minutes before the show was over and I had to reload and watch all the commercials again. FWIW, the internet is the only way I watch TV, so I think the more of this stuff that's out there, the better.
posted by gokart4xmas at 1:10 PM on May 1, 2006


The sponsor depends on the episode, you can watch the entire current season, and it looks like there's a different sponsor for each episode.

Is it possible to select episodes of Lost other than "Reckoning? ?
posted by craniac at 1:30 PM on May 1, 2006


Wow, it's like having a pipeline of raw sewage that I can turn on at will. Thanks, but no thanks.
posted by 2sheets at 1:45 PM on May 1, 2006


thanks: blue_beetle!
posted by ruelle at 1:50 PM on May 1, 2006


blue_beetle, thank you so much!
posted by keijo at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2006


Well, come Thursday, I'll be giving this a shot for Lost. I don't think it's too much to be asked to watch a few ads to see a TV show. At least this way I don't actually pay money every month to have to watch ads with a TV show. Except, um... my DSL bill I guess.
posted by Durhey at 3:04 PM on May 1, 2006


nice one blue beetle!

if only they had the first series of lost streaming too, I've only just gotten into it.
posted by 6am at 3:09 PM on May 1, 2006


"Only viewers in the United States can watch these full-lenth episodes."

Yeah, this is seriously annoying.
posted by Staggering Jack at 3:42 PM on May 1, 2006


Dont feel like watching whole TV episodes on the web ..
But hey kids ... take it from someone who has spent some time fiddling with web video and streaming technologies ...
I have seen the future and it *is* Flash, the friendliest lowest common demoninator.
Turbo Video Encoder and/or Flix will do it for ya ...

keep it simple ..
posted by celerystick at 8:13 PM on May 1, 2006


blue_beetle -- thank you.
posted by runkelfinker at 9:22 AM on May 2, 2006


Wow, it's like having a pipeline of raw sewage that I can turn on at will. Thanks, but no thanks.

Hating TV is so very quaint.
posted by smackfu at 12:25 PM on May 2, 2006


I like it. I don't care for the shows, but yeah, this is just like Adult Swim, meaning a good thing for the future of "TV."

One day, I'll finally be able to convince my girlfriend to cancel cable (though she claims to like HBO).
posted by mrgrimm at 3:39 PM on May 3, 2006


the button on the right makes it full screen, but only if your bandwidth is high enough.
posted by timory at 2:09 PM on May 4, 2006


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