One of the first apps I downloaded for my iPad was ABC Player. At the time I thought it was a cool interface, but didn't really have much use for it. That all changed last night.
I'm a big fan of LOST (or I should say that I once was a big fan since this season leaves me disappointed so far) and generally don't get to watch it at the time it airs. This has led me to either watch it late at night via my DVR or Cox Communications' OnDemand, or watch it streaming over the internet.
Since I purchased the iPad I've been thinking of using it to watch some TV shows while in bed. With its big screen and the ability to control brightness--so as not to disturb others late at night--it seems like the perfect use case. For me, though, it seemed like it would be an odd experience, especially since I have HDTVs around the house and appreciate the HDTV broadcast quality, especially on shows like LOST.
Well, last night I bit the bullet and instead of sitting on my couch at 11:30pm, I retired for the evening with the iPad in-hand, with headphones at the ready. Before last night I had experienced more than my share of Wi-Fi issues with the iPad, so I was reluctant to even try to get into watching a long episode. However, I was surprised to see that not only did the buffering work expertly, but the Wi-Fi held out, too.
If you're not familiar with the ABC Player app, you start it up and then navigate to the show that you want to watch. Since LOST had just aired this week, it was one swipe away. I found the small picture, clicked on it, and was greeted by an ad and then the show started streaming.
Landscape / widescreen mode Portrait mode
For the most part the playback was flawless, with the only issue I encountered being that even with screen lock, at times the pad would flip itself back into portrait viewing mode, even though I was holding it in landscape.
As I mentioned above, the experience was better than I had imagined, and now it makes sense to see that according to The Wall Street Journal, the ABC Player app has been downloaded 205,000 times, with more than 650,000 episodes (in whole or in part) being viewed.
I used to say that I couldn't wait for something like Hulu to be available on the iPhone, but with ABC putting out their own app, and it working this effortlessly, I'm hoping that other networks follow suit. After all, you don't need to have the content aggregated by someone like Hulu if each network can deliver the shows that you want, in a easily consumable format.
ABC has definitely set the standard for streaming on the iPad. Now we'll see how long it takes for them to bring the experience to iPhone, and for other networks to follow its example.