ABC Full Episode Streaming is Live… and it’s Spectacular

Seinfeld fans will note the Teri Hatcher reference in the title of this post, but I just tried out ABC’s full-episode streaming video service which launched a few minutes ago (around 2am this morning), and it is indeed quite nice.

Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias, and Commander in Chief. They are all available online now if you live in the U.S. — free of charge. This isn’t some B-reel lineup of shows starving for attention. These are ABC’s most popular programs, and now thanks to Disney Brass, the ABC team in Burbank, and the Disney Internet Group in both Seattle and North Hollywood, they are viewable on any computer with a broadband connection. No more PVR-induced BitTorrenting for me… at least with ABC shows.

I have a special regard for this product because it was the last project I worked on before leaving Disney to start Newsvine. My work was in the proof-of-concept phase and the final product doesn’t share a single line of code or element of design, but I still feel an affinity for what has been accomplished here. I think it’s really, really great.

Some items of importance:

  • This service is fully cross-browser and cross-platform. No Internet Explorer/Windows Media mess to worry about. I’m so glad Flash video won out in the end, and although Steve Jobs had nothing to do with it, I’m sure he’s happy that these shows look and work great on Macs.
  • This is perhaps the nicest looking Flash video I’ve ever seen. Not only are the video dimensions nice and large, but the picture is extremely clear and not choppy at all. You can tell a lot of work went into the encoding and delivery process. It’s also interesting to note that this is 400k and 700k Flash streaming and not progressive download. Progressive download has been a lot more common than streaming in the past and it’s nice to see such a great example of true broadband Flash streaming in action.
  • As great as this service is from a design and engineering standpoint, what’s been accomplished here from a licensing standpoint is just as significant. Disney has wanted to stream television shows for several years now. I remember working on early prototypes a few years ago, but the problem back then was that internet rights had never been negotiated into the deals of the network’s most popular shows. This wasn’t specific to ABC but to all major networks including NBC, Fox, and CBS. Most people think that when a show like Desperate Housewives airs on ABC, the network has full ownership of it. That is not the case. They generally have rights to do certain things with it (viz. air it on TV, sell it on DVD, etc), but only recently have networks begun including internet distribution rights in these deals. It looks like we’re finally starting to see the fruits of these new licensing terms, and it’s a great great thing.
  • My only complaint here is the lack of ability to pop the video full screen. I remember talking to Macromedia about this awhile back but can’t remember what their answer was with regards to whether or not they’d ever be able to build this functionality into the Flash plug-in.
  • Actually, I have one other complaint and that is that the video is not available internationally, but hey, you have to crawl before you can walk.

So head on over to ABC.com and check this thing out for yourself. I’m sure it’s just the beginning of a lot more video-related initiatives to come at Disney. Big ups to everyone over there and to all the peeps in the Seattle office!

One more thing: I believe this is officially a “trial service” which will run until June 30th. Hopefully it will do well and continue on long after that.

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281 Responses:

  1. Rylan says:

    I am having the same problem: “Episodes are temporarily unavailable, please try again at another time.” This happens for any show on ABC, not just LOST. I’ve tried everything I can think of and can’t get it to work! I’m watching from US, so there shouldn’t be a problem there…

  2. Cia says:

    Both Kristie and I resolved this problem by unplugging the router and plugging the connection directly into the computer. Now, It works perfectly. If you have a router that may be the problem. Try unplugging it and watching directly a couple times. Now it’s working fine even through the router. I think ABC’s website was trying to put too much info in through the router and it was timing out. It just needed a reboost.

  3. Nate says:

    You can watch the video internationally if you simply change your proxy settings and use a “fake” American proxy. ABC will stream to the new “American” proxy, that how ever conveniently, is located on your computer…hehe…just a little trick. Google how to surf the web with total privacy, or how to hide behind another proxy, or how to use a different proxy…all of these questions will eventually lead you to the same answer. Change a proxy. Download from ABC.

    Enjoy!

  4. Rylan says:

    Cia,

    Thanks for the suggestion but it didn’t work. I’ve tried plugging straight it, turning off all firewalls and safety options on internet explorer, turning off windows firewall, and running a different internet browser and still: “Episodes are temporarily unavailable, please try again at another time.” None worked. Please, if anyone knows how to fix this problem let me know. Thanks.

  5. Ginnie says:

    Ryan,
    I tried plugging in directly and I got the same results as you. “Episodes are temporarily unavailable”. I can watch Fox episodes fine, I can even watch the news on ABC, just not the full episodes.

    PLEASE HELP!!!!!

  6. MW says:

    Same problem as Paul, although rarely I don’t have this problem and the shows play:
    Living outside US
    Using Hotspot shield
    changed time zone

    Plays adverts, then black screen just says “loading….” I can click on each of the segments of the programme and the relevant adverts play ok but cannot get the actual programme to play.

  7. Rylan says:

    Ginnie,
    I ended up buying them off iTunes. What a waste of $4 for two missed episodes! I hope you have better luck…
    Rylan

  8. FIGURED IT OUT says:

    ***** If you have the AD DATA PROBLEM READ ME *********
    ***** If you have the AD DATA PROBLEM READ ME *********
    ***** If you have the AD DATA PROBLEM READ ME *********
    ***** If you have the AD DATA PROBLEM READ ME *********

    I FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT….

    you need to disable the ad blocker on your browser to watch the videos. This makes sense. If you block the ads they wont show the episode.

    For example I had to turn off my ANTIVIRUS and my BROWSER AD blocker on maxthon to watch. If you have soemthing like google toolbar that blocks ad or ANY PROGRAM that BLOCKS ADS TURN IT OFF!

  9. kelly says:

    This is great stuff. I can get most of these episodes at home,but i work at nights and i can watch this on my laptop at work. The video quality is excellent.

  10. Patrick says:

    ok so for the people who all this didnt work for !!!!! heres how i got it to work for me enjoy :)

    1. Download hotspot Shield
    2. Press connect when installed
    3. when connected go on to http://www.ip-adress.com/ if it works it should say u are from Brooklyn or sum where in america then a map should pop up.
    4. Go on to dynamic.abc.go.com and click Lost season 1 , 2 ,3 or 4 and see if it loads up.
    5. if it loads up click on the video u want to watch and u will see an 13sec advert after its finished on the hotspot shield (that should be in the tray icon at the bottom right) right click it and disconect
    5 click go at the top when u want to see the episode when the adverts finnished and BOOM ure Watching Seasons on LOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    p.s. i live in Uk and runnign windows vista when installing Hotspot Shild click u want to instal the drivers when the window message pops up!!!

    i hope this worked for you if it didnt msn me at Kisspsyco@hotmail.co.uk

    Enjoy :)

  11. Patrick says:

    SOz bout this but also u need to downlaod a firefox adon called foxy proxy and find a transparent us ip adress once u have this on as well as hotspot shield it will work hopefully.

  12. Nez says:

    I’m having the same problem with the javascript:void(0). Anyone figure out a fix?

  13. Jamie says:

    Hey people!

    Do as above, but when the episode comes up “Loading…”,

    Right click the green shield in system tray, and click “Disconnect”.

    This allows the episode to stream at your connection speed,

    And!,

    You don’t need to watch the ads!

    email me with queries @ jammy1193@hotmail.co.uk

    -Jamie

  14. Jamie says:

    Oh, and you may need to reconnect to select another episode,

    I have watched Season 1 and am on the first episode of Season 2!

    Currently streaming @ 1581kb/s up here in Scotland (:

  15. Patrick says:

    ok so i have 8mb broadband and a gaming spec computer!!!!! i try and watch lost when i get back from school thats 3:55 i try and watch lost however i get a rubbish streaming rate!!!! even though i have good connection and computer. however at night time in england i seem to get 1596kbps for some strange reason it gets to be like this around 10- 12 oclock dunno why any body help me out?

    p.s. Jamie how do u make it work on your computer plz may u walk me through the steps of how u got ABC lost series to work online as well as a Proxy ip address you use to bypass when u click to watch bit thanks.

  16. jamie says:

    Hey, Do you have msn?

    id rather talk on that

    -jamie

  17. Jamie says:

    Hey,

    I’d rather talk on msn,

    -Jamie

  18. Jamie says:

    Oh, my msn is jammy1193@hotmail.co.uk

    -Jamie

  19. joann says:

    not working!!!

  20. Adam says:

    Hi i’ve done this and had no luck. It still says episodes are unavailable. Help!

  21. kelly says:

    I have been using this for about 3 weeks now without any problems. I really appreciate this. Im on the road a lot as i said last month

  22. richard says:

    Hi, I have hooked up my tv to my computer and can watch tv shows from abc but when I try to watch nbc or cbs there is only video not audio. Everything is ok on the computer ( sound and video) but not on the tv. Does anyone know what the problem could be. I have am using XP home.

    Thanks

  23. Clipship says:

    THANKS!!! I was getting the invalid ad data error. I had tried everything from changing the preferences to downloading codecs and such and then read the answer here. I had a separate ad manager in my security program that I didn’t even know was enabled. I disabled it and now I can watch!!!!

  24. Bill says:

    About the Javascript error, select the show, scroll the page down, select Watch Now. Another window opens with the player. I too was having the same problem with a screen resolution of 1024×768, the Watch Now button was off screen, it wasn’t until I scrolled the window and found the Watch button that everything worked. 1280×1024 shows the whole page as ABC intended it.

  25. André says:

    Hi! I have been watching episodes from abc.com for a month without problems (from Switzerland), but it suddenly just stopped working. Whenever I try to start an episode I get this ‘Error. Episodes are temporarily unavailable. Please try again.’ And of course, trying again hasn’t really chanced anything. I’ve found a proxy from the US, I have a Hotspot Shield and I remembered to disable my antivirus thingy. Is there anything I might be doing wrong? pls help

  26. chiara says:

    same is happening to me… Let me know how to solve this issue! thanks
    Chiara

  27. Kathy Vega says:

    This stupid website totally started my computer running very slow…I hate it and won’t/can’t use it. Too bad people wont realize this until th ey click into it. I NEED IT REMOVED>>>HOW CAN I DO THIS???????

  28. Cia says:

    Once again I’m having trouble streaming abc.com. It seems every time they have premiers my streaming stops working. Now everytime I try to click on a episode to stream it says “The player encountered an error. Please try again later. [error code: parser] Any ideas on how to fix this? It’s been over a week now.

  29. joeseph says:

    those that live in Canada can stream from CTV’s website as it hast it instead of abc.

  30. faith says:

    The irony is, I can’t view the videos, and I LIVE IN THE USA.

    #$%^&@(!

    Meanwhile, my cousin in another country can see it just fine.

  31. Brenda Elliott says:

    I cannot get past the commercials on ABC.com. The countdown numbers show for a second and then disappear. I’ve watched at least 15 commercials and there is no way to access the show afterwards. Some episodes I can and others I can’t. This has to be their problem, right?

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