Over the past couple of days, I’ve been testing the EW902 from Eweat; it’s an Android TV device. Testing the Android TV device has got me into testing a lot of streaming services. Streaming services that are not normally available through Roku. Admittedly, I had not used the big three American broadcasters streaming services on android before. The streaming services that I was trying to use were from ABC, NBC and CBS.
With cable companies reporting declines in cable subscriptions from their customers and increases in broadband subscriptions, it starts making you wonder what efforts these major broadcasters are putting into the streaming services. You’ll be surprised to find that they’re not putting a lot of effort into convincing customers that streaming content is the way to go. Moreover, it looks like the three big broadcasters are trying to make streaming content a joke to potential customers.
Over the past three days, I downloaded the ABC, CBS and NBC android apps to stream their content. Easily enough, I could find their applications on Google Play and I was able to install applications without any problems at all. All the applications have the same goal, and that was to provide broadcaster specific content to users, but they all failed in their own respective ways.
ABC – Watch ABC
ABC’s user interface was not optimized for users who are going to be using remote controls. It appears that their application was going to be driven specifically to android touchscreens. In my testing, the video playback quality was not very good; it was at a much lower resolution than my android device was capable of. And like Hulu, ABC’s streaming service makes you watch several commercials prior to even getting a peek at the content. I really can’t speak any lower of the video quality for ABC. The picture quality was very artifacting, and from my testing, the streaming service made no efforts to try to optimize the image based upon your available bandwidth.
I have one gigabit Internet service from EPB in Chattanooga, TN; I have no shortage of bandwidth. Obviously, ABC has no interest in trying to impress their customers with their online streaming offerings. Sadly, even the commercials that was shown before the content was poor quality.
The good news about all this is that ABC was offering this service for free and it didn’t appear that you had to sign up for an account.
CBS – CBS
CBS has one of the better user layouts for streaming services, and on the service it looks like you should be able to watch any of the TV shows/content that they have available, but unfortunately, that’s just on the surface. Anytime you try to click on any of the TV shows or content for watching, the streaming service automatically kicks you into another screen about having to create a user profile to view the content.
That’s right, you have to create a user profile to watch CBS online streaming content. Moreover, CVS requires you to pay the six dollars a month to watch their content. CBS does offer a one-week trial period for their streaming service.
One benefit that CBS offers, that I didn’t see from the other two, is that CBS allows you to watch live broadcasts. Unfortunately, there’s a caveat to it. CBS will only allow you to watch live broadcasts if you live in specific areas. You have to check for availability of CBS broadcasts in your area if you want to see live streams.
I never signed up for CBS’s streaming service, so I don’t know the video quality that they were going to offer, but I can say that as I was watching the video for the demo, for the content they’re supposed to provide, I did notice that the image quality was being adaptive, and was getting better based upon the amount of bandwidth that was available. Again, I live in an area with excellent Internet service speeds, but based on the demonstration of their video quality, the offering by CBS was not going to exceed that of Netflix; which has excellent picture quality and playback.
NBC – NBC
NBC was another streaming service that I thought had a pretty good interface for picking out the content that I would like to watch; I just really like how things were laid out with tiles. One thing I did notice with NBC’s user interface was that it was not optimized for users that were going to be using their application with a remote; it seemed to be specifically driven to a touch interface.
Like ABC, NBC seems to be hell-bent on making users watch a commercial before watching the first second of their streaming service. Unfortunately, I never got opportunity to see a single second of any of the content from NBC because their streaming service never worked. The only thing that worked with the NBC streaming service was the ability to quickly show users the two or three commercials it took to get to the content, which never showed.
It didn’t matter which TV show I chose from NBC, I got the same thing. I would have to watch two or three commercials and then content would never appear; constantly waiting for content to load.
Honestly, I can’t say that I can give NBC lower marks, but I can say that the weakest efforts that they put forth, is still better than CBS.
I was very surprised that the three biggest companies that provide content and entertainment in the United States have such a pathetic offering a streaming services. It staggers me that ABC, CBS and NBC have chosen to embarrass themselves voluntarily by passing out applications that are supposed to stream their content and build a following with a customer base. But what they’ve done is provide a application that’s less than par, inconsistent and poorly executed.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been testing this Android TV device and I have to admit that while I didn’t have to install the android applications for ABC, CBS and NBC, I wanted to make the comparison between what was available on the Internet and what was being provided directly from the providers. I needed to know the difference from what’s being extrapolated from the Internet versus what the legitimate media companies of the world are putting forward as commercial solutions. I can honestly say that their commercial solutions were far less than acceptable.
Objectively, I can say it’s possible that in a three-day window of testing all those applications, I had the lowest point possible with all three services and I experienced the worst possible scenarios, from which I also got the worst experience possible. But the Internet being the way it is, I would suspect that it’s possible I could run into the situation in a 1 to 2 hour window; but not for three days.
For this I give them all a FAIL grade.