NBC Almost Gets It

As I type this, I am watching NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. It’s the Internet version, though I’m not sure what’s different between this and the newscast that aired earlier tonight over-the-air&#185.

As a Firefox browser user, MSNBC sites have given me problems in the past. Everything loaded perfectly tonight – painlessly. Maybe MSNBC has mended their ways.

Nightly News is streaming using the Windows Media protocol at 300 kbps. The video looks to be about 320×240 and is relatively sharp with a few glitches associated with motion. Brian Williams looks crisper on TV with more vivid colors… but not by much. I’m actually impressed with the quality.

Here’s where NBC has it wrong – and I’m afraid this shows they don’t totally understand how Internet streaming will be used. You can only watch this broadcast beginning to end, in real time. There is no ability to jump forward or back.

If you miss something, there’s no way to repeat without repeating everything you’ve already seen. Same if you want to skip ahead past a story you’re not interested in. Tough luck.

There is code on the webpage which turns off the Windows Media Player timeline and any of the standard ‘right click’ functions. There are probably ways to work around these shortcomings, but for most users, it is what it is.

This is the way I watched TV 20 years ago. I am used to more control. My DVR is more powerful. Certainly, the Internet and Windows Media Player allow more versatility, if that’s NBC’s desire.

I should be allowed to move forward and backward thought the timeline. In fact, the site should be set up with the ability to random access stories, probably at the click of a button.

At some point television networks and stations will have to come to grips with the difference between Internet viewing and over-the-air viewing. We will probably see shorter programs, but possibly longer individual stories. Once we can ‘request’ stories that interest us, more time and depth in reporting are a logical next step.

Maybe the idea of a program (at least for news) will disappear as you cherry pick what you want to see.

It’s funny, in this age when HDTV and huge sets seem to be the big thing, the tiny on-screen viewing window works just fine.

&#185 – Now that it’s over, I can report the commercials have been replaced by promos and the 30 minute newscast ran around 22 minutes.