The curious, and potentially exciting ABC Now.

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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has just flicked the switch on its new software offering ABC Now. Currently only available on PC (with Mac on the way) the desktop client is an audio/video hub for ABC content that allows you to stream and download programs and listen to live radio. And while comparisions are bound to be made to the BBC’s iPlayer this isn’t quite it, not yet at least.

The software is currently pretty basic, and doesn’t offer anything you can’t already get through the ABC’s website. What I find exciting about this is the potential it has. The fact that the ABC is building its own software is great, and its promise to be cross platform is also nice, what it needs though is much more content, much better quality streams and downloads, an integrated media player and library for your downloads, live streaming of ABC television channels, and a huge video back catalogue of every ABC production they have the rights to give away or sell to us.

And while my wish list is probably a bit of a stretch, I think this very first release is a nice start, with a lot of room to grow. Try it out for yourself here.

In related news: The ABC have announced that vodcasts are being downloaded at a rate of 327,000 per week, with over 14 million video downloads so far this year.

17 Responses to “The curious, and potentially exciting ABC Now.”


  • It’s good but you should be able to set preferences better. Like saving your local ABC station and more LOCAL weather with local forecasts and be able to save your location in.

    Good start though.

  • I like pretty much the ABC Now logo. The “now” fits perfectly with ABC’s logo and it gives a innovative feeling.

  • great to see this starting to happen in oz, i think all the tv channel in the uk already have this.

    was able to watch the tribute to Matt Price on Insiders. shame it cant be downloaded. did you happen to have a copy John?

    keep up the good work!

  • That tribute was very beautiful and sad.

    ABC Now looks good…but was a little different from what I expected. It is only ‘stage 1’ of the system after all…

  • This looks like a great use of the Adobe AIR platform (which is good for Mac users as it means that a Mac version is probably VERY close).

  • What a waste of the ABC’s limited resources.

    Anyone who tried to download Summer Heights High would know that the server infrastructure is limited in it’s capacity to serve popular, high bandwidth content.

    It does nothing that is not already possible with what is required to download and run it, namely a web browser.

    Considering, also, the woeful state of interaction at abc.net.au it seems to me that there are many things that Aunty needs to get right before rushing off into this misadventure of creating desktop applications (note that there is no uninstall and ABC-now has no accessibility features. Releasing a beta application without an uninstaller and without explaining the nature of beta software ANYWHERE on the abc now site is totally irrisponsible).

    It reeks of old media failing to grasp the nature of new media.

    The basics are being squandered while these side-shows eat the budgets.

    Maybe Aunty should stop employing old media staff to run things they obviously know nothing about.

    At least I now find ABC’s very expensive second-life fiasco less galling (yeah, untold tens of thousands for a virtual amphitheater that can accommodate 40 audience members!!!).

    Rather than a good start I see it as a (very) wrong turn.

  • Dan, you miss the idea behind it. It is not a problem that it offers what can already be gained from the website – the point of it is to be a ‘hub’ of new media content.

    BTW, they employ all new staff to run their Innovation department…so much for your claim!

    As for ‘no uninstall’, surely you know how to uninstall programs yourself???

    feel free not to use it!

  • I fail to see how diluting users Internet proficiency by introducing another stand alone application contributes to a better experience for users.

    For instance ABC-Now has scroll bars which act differently to all the other scroll bars a user will meet in their applications, I know other Adobe Flash interfaces do the same, but this is damaging to the creation of digital literacy.

    Common conventions are empowering for users, this is not. By creating more difference without gains, it is simply confusing for the users. (Isn’t computer technology confusing enough? Or would you rather the ‘file’ menu be on the right and ‘quit’ kept in the ‘windows’ palette?? These thing are kept consistent for very good reasons).

    I can probably work out how to uninstall a program, but such a glib response in relation to this omission with a beta software release is to my mind reckless.
    A great many of the users of this application will be inexperienced and reliant upon ABC for support and guidance.
    I think specifically in relation to your claim that one is free not to use ABC-Now it seems somewhat curious that is is up to me to ‘work out’ how to remove it.

    On the other hand I applaud the recent changes to abc.net.au/news/ which bring together a great deal of relevant content in new and useful ways for ABC users.
    The media collections and the organisation methods available through tags and personalisation provide exactly the functionality you espouse without duplication and confusion.
    Also the electoral coverage provided by the ABC was great – though the election blog was another fabulous demonstration of getting it wrong.

    I just wish Aunty would concentrate on her strengths online – content, fantastic powerful content, not dead-end experiments.

  • This is all about content – Dan. It is about developing a new way to deliver it.

    Your main concern seems to be that it is ‘different’ and ‘uses a different style’ of operation….well new things are always like that! Don’t fear change.

  • I looked on the faq and found this at the bottom…..

    How do I uninstall ABC Now

    To uninstall ABC Now, simply delete the folder C:\Program Files\ABC Now (where C is your default windows install drive).

  • and this comment is strange… “damaging to the creation of digital literacy.”

    what about apple… they don’t have a right click on there mouse…. hell to copy is apple c, not ctrl c… but they have a ctrl key… and having played with an itouch…. now that is a whole different user experience…..

    I would have to agree with AndyOz, it is about content…

  • This has a very long way to go. You can’t even full screen the videos (i could be wrong).

    I don’t see why this has to be a standalone application. You could achieve exactly the same result with a flash interface on a website. Even the audio and video prefs are the same as the options they provide on the website.

    Maybe if this was a big back catalogue of shows presented in a way that was impossible within a browser then maybe it might have some more use.

  • ….next year, Harry…

  • I personally never use widgets and stand-alone applications like this for fear of spyware, although I credit the ABC with the honesty not to use it for this purpose. But I’d rather just go to their website and download the clips the conventional way.

    I do like the promo for ABC Now, although the new ABC News website promo was better.

    Finally, if you want a list of ABC (and commercial) streaming stations, I have a list with streaming links at http://www.radio.adonline.id.au/

  • @ Stu – Unfortunately mate I don’t believe this app is using Adobe AIR. A quick look at the properties of the installer reveal that it’s using Screentime’s mProjector.

    Which IMHO a real disappointment. Why bother going only half the way in creating a Flash based desktop application/widget and then using a projector wrapper to distribute it to the masses. Additionally, why then force users to use either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player to view video – neither of which are well supported on any other platform than Windows. Flash video is by far a better alternative, has a far greater install base (and better end-user experience) than either of the 2 aforementioned players.

    Perhaps the ABC should consider using Adobe AIR for the next version of NOW player.

  • The Mac version is now out.

  • The mac version identifies itself as ‘mProjector player 3.0.4’ and that it is copyright ‘Screentime Media’.
    Why should we trust this as code from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, when it identifies itself as belonging to some other organisation.
    The icon it uses also is from this third-party software vendor.

    It makes the ABC seem as if it’s pedaling amateur-hour fluff, filled with (potentially evil) third-party code (what a great way to get people to install code they don’t need or understand).

    This product is a pure waste of resource. It provides nothing that the technology which one needs to acquire it (a web-browser), doesn’t already provides.

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