Let me begin by stating that I am running Ubuntu on a 455Mhz Pentium III machine with 385MB RAM and a 1.5Mbs DSL line running Gnome and FireFox. I'm not going to comment greatly on choppy video as I know some of that can be attributed to the hardware I am using. Instead I am going to focus on the aspect of working versus not working.
ABC has some great shows on, at the top of my list is Lost. I love this show and I try to never miss it when it airs, but sometimes you want to go back and watch it again.
ABC's on line video service uses Flash and offers you a Big or Normal screen setting. what is also great about ABC's offering is that you can see ANY episode in the current season!
I had zero problems accessing the ABC on-line website and the video performed great at the Normal setting on my computer. I did experience choppy video when I went to the Big size, but I expected that on this machine.
The shows do have commercials added into them, but there are only two and they are evenly spaced to give me a chance to get something from the kitchen or go to the bathroom.
I give ABC an B+ for their on-line offering.
NBC has two shows that I greatly enjoy; My Name is Earl and Heroes. I hate to say it but, I missed the first few episodes of Heroes and I often miss Earl because it comes on so early and I was used to seeing it on Tuesday nights.
NBC let me down.
When I went to their site everything looked good at first. The commercial loaded up and played fine and then it hung... and hung... and hung... for some reason the player would not advance to the content. Clicking on the Refresh button just caused a new commercial to load and play.
Right away, NBC is failing me. to make matters worse, they only offer the most recent episode of their shows on-line.
I give NBC an F for Failing to work.
PS: when I did watch them on my XP machine I was very annoyed in that Heroes was broken into about five parts and each part was lead into with a 30 second commercial.
The only show I watch on FOX these days are is The Simpsons. I used to be a big FOX watcher but they just do not have many shows that interest me anymore.
When I went to the FOX site and looked for their on-line offerings I ended up being redirected to a MySpace page. (I guess they are really trying to capitalize on that purchase?) to make matters worse, I was told:
FOX does not believe Linux is newer then Windows 98 SE
I'm looking at this message and thinking, "I'm running Ubuntu Linux, it's newer then Windows XP!!!"
I give FOX an F for Failing to take into account not everyone runs Windows and that telling people they need something "Newer" then Windows 98 SE should take into account that Linux IS newer then Windows 98 SE!!!
CBS... The "Crime Show" Broadcasting Service... I watch nothing on CBS these days. I'm not into crime/cop shows unless they are re-runs of Barney Miller, Hill Street Blues or 1Adam-12. (I met the guys from 1Adam-12 when I was a tot and have a picture somewhere to prove it!)
Regardless, I entered their on-line TV site and found that, unlike NBC and CBS, they used Real Player! The site said I needed Real Player 10.5 but the only Real Player for Linux is 10.0...
Real Player 10.0 worked absolutely fine. I still got the annoying "You need a plug-in" bar at the top of my browser window but it worked.
I found their "Innertube" system very easy to navigate. When I went back to the site to re-check a few things I was greatly surprised to find that if I wanted to continue watching the same episode it saved my place and let me resume right from where I left off!
I think I encountered a commercial when I first started using the "Innertube" service but it was so unobtrusive that I didn't even notice it!
CBS earns an A+ for their "Innertube" service. It is clearly the best of the big four networks offerings.