How Nets' Web-Video Players Stack Up

ABC, Others Rush to Put Shows Online, but Their Delivery Methods Vary

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NEW YORK ( -- The hottest gadgets around these days include iPods, high-definition flat-screen TVs and digital video recorders. Eager to keep up, the broadcast networks have all launched their own online video viewers to reach that growing audience that's at ease watching video not on their TV sets.
ABC's web video player

See how the broadcast networks' online video players compare to one another.


Web Video Viewer Comparison
ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CW compete for online eyes and ad dollars.

The big broadcast networks have begun to put more thought into ways of distributing their programs that keep people interested and eager to come back for more. "There is huge potential for all these players," said Rob D'Asaro, U.S. director-digital investing at Omnicom Group's OMD. "They are all starting to gain traction."

There's no one way to build this beast. CW's player allows in some cases for viewers to purchase goods they see on screen. ABC's offers a sleek, almost luxurious viewing environment that includes interactive 30-second ads. While ad executives believe a standard format is inevitable, they are willing to contemplate a range of ideas as each network experiments, and many predict tweaks and upgrades in the months ahead. "We're just getting going," said Bill Bradford, senior VP-content strategy for News Corp.'s Fox.

One thing all the online viewers have is advertising -- presented almost apologetically, with assurances to viewers that their programs will return within seconds. The cautious tone is not in keeping with brassy network demeanor, said Matt Rosenberg, group director for media and entertainment at Omnicom's Organic.

"The networks seem so sensitive to the fact that they are even presenting advertising," he said. Even so, the shows have fewer ads, so the ads that are there tend to stand out more than they would in their natural environment, the TV screen.

Advertising Age spent an afternoon examining each of the five networks' online video players.
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