By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer
Online news video is plentiful: NBC, ABC and CBS all have Web editions
of their evening news, and CNN recently launched a four-channel
broadband network carrying feeds not available on its U.S. cable
channels. Best of all, most of it is free.
ABC and CNN offer more through subscription packages, but unless
you're a news junkie you'll do fine with the free offerings from both
networks, along with CBS, NBC and Fox News Channel.
The bigger question is whether you have the time and patience to
Laurels go to ABC for offering a Web edition of the evening news hours
BEFORE the TV newscast. CBS's version appears shortly after the East
Coast broadcast while NBC, through MSNBC.com, simply runs the TV
version minus commercials hours later.
All three also break the news shows into segments available on-demand.
Beyond the newscasts, free original video is rather limited.
MSNBC updates news and business highlights all day, while CBS
correspondents appear online long before their dispatches air on
television. CBS also sometimes offers longer versions of interviews
shown on TV. Fox has clips on lifestyle, travel and fitness as part of
iMag, its Internet magazine.
And you can often find live webcasts of press conferences and other
breaking events for free throughout the day. In recent days, I got
plenty on the coal mine tragedy.
But for around-the-clock feeds, you have to pay.
CNN's $25-a-year Pipeline offers four live feeds exclusive to the Web
(considering that CNN International, one of those feeds evenings and
weekends, isn't available on U.S. cable systems). One feed is
anchored, the other three generally raw footage.
Following a seaplane crash off Miami Beach last month, I got two or
three simultaneous feeds of local television coverage, all of which
differed from CNN cable. At the same time, another feed came from the
But more isn't always better and some feeds came across as fillers.
The other day, I got lengthy live video on Pipeline -- no audio -- from
one spot overlooking New York's Central Park. The news peg?
Preparations for New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square about a
ABC charges more -- $40 a year -- for ABC News Now, the network's
digital answer to cable channels like CNN and Fox News. (It's free for
paid subscribers of America Online, Comcast, SBC Yahoo or a number of
The ABC offering feels much more like television, with scheduled
programming interrupted now and then by breaking news as well as
The subscription also gets you previously broadcast "Nightline" and
"World News Tonight" (the Web preview edition is free) and additional
on-demand clips. CNN's subscription gets you its archived, ad-free
versions of the free video and longer interviews shown only briefly
for free or on TV.
I'd go with CNN if you enjoy raw footage, ABC if you prefer news in a
For all sites, video quality was tolerable, but television it is not.
The screen is small, clips can take long to load and video stutters -- the
picture freezes, and the sound cuts in and out.
My office Internet connection could be at fault; video performed
better at home, though that was during the low-traffic late evening
I couldn't get MSNBC video to work on Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh
computers. Error messages direct me to version 6 of the Internet
Explorer browser, even though Microsoft Corp. never developed a
version past 5.2.3 for the Mac.
And on Microsoft's Windows computers, MSNBC's video generally fails on
the competing Firefox browser.
Microsoft happens to jointly own MSNBC.com with NBC. Hmmmm.
(I should note that Microsoft and The Associated Press are planning an
advertising-supported online video news network early this year, using
Video from the other four networks worked on the Mac and on Firefox,
but only CBS made its video explicitly available for both Microsoft's
Windows Media Player and RealNetworks Inc.' RealPlayer.
CBS and MSNBC both let you build your own newscast by adding any
number of clips to a "to play" list. CBS's was slightly better,
particularly on IE.
CBS also lets you watch some clips from within the Web page, without
opening a separate window for the video player. The featured clip
changes as you move from section to section, story to story.
ABC, CBS and Fox were best in sorting items by both category and news
program; CBS, CNN and MSNBC let you search by keyword.
Overall, CBS's offerings were the easiest to find and use.
That said, I thought CBS promoted too much entertainment-related news
segments within its player -- namely, the "Early Show" concerts and
interviews with reality show castoffs.
And CBS, along with Fox and ABC, also weren't as good about labeling
their clips. MSNBC and CNN both stamped items with dates -- time of day
would have been nice, too.
Overall, I ran across many interesting clips, and it's good to know
the video is available when I want it.
But I didn't find any of it compelling enough to set aside time from
my already busy day.
Nor do I see any clear-cut winner among the free offerings.
The beauty is you don't have to stick with one.
The Internet is all about personal choice -- including the choice to
tune out if you lack the attention span for online news video.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The
information contained in the AP News report may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written
authority of The Associated Press.
NOTE: For more telecom/internet/networking/computer news from the
daily media, check out our feature 'Telecom Digest Extra' each day at
http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/more-news.html . Hundreds of new
articles daily. And, discuss this and other topics in our forum at
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: It is _not_ true that you have to pay
for audio or video or printed news. Many times it is _totally free_ on
the internet. For example, here at Telecom Digest, we have _many_ news
feeds available with no charge, no registration, and no login require-
ments. Whatever news you desire to read, hear or view, it is all
available. Just go to http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra and look at
all the various categories, ranging from Associated Press' news feed
along with news feeds from New York Times, National Public Radio, The
Christian Science Monitor, NASA television, Reuters, tech news from
two or three categories, United Press International and many more. We
also have the Associated Press News Radio audio 24/7, BBC World
Service audio, AP five minute news every hour, a BBC five minute news
summary and my very own Telecom Digest News Radio audio 24/7. It is
all _totally free_ to users, it is paid for by Google advertising. I
am attempting now to add Associated Press's "One Minute World"
television program as well, again, paid for through your clicks on the
Google advertisers. Please try it all out, and let me know if you
would like new additions. Just go to http://telecom-digest.org/td-extra/
and check out our features. PAT]