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ABC Soups Up Online Video Player

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A screenshot of ABC.com, taken on May 22, 2008.

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - ABC.com is souping up its full-episode broadband player with new features for the fall.

Among the bells and whistles set for the broadcaster's online destination are full-screen viewing, closed captioning and the ability to send video links that can be embedded on blogs and social networks.

"Having come out of the gate with the first player in the space, we're continually looking at how we expand and provide a better experience from our users," said Alexis Rapo, vp digital media at ABC Entertainment.

ABC.com was the first full-episode player online when it launched in 2006, and as of April, it is the dominant one: Its 8.9 million unique users was tops for the month among broadcasters, according to Nielsen Online. ABC.com also leads in minutes spent per user.

The user interface has been redesigned with new navigation and search features that allow users to comb series offerings graphically, alphabetically, by genre or popularity. Also added: content recommendation technology that suggests programs based on a viewer's choices.

Although ABC.com previously contained the video to a browser window, the improved player will allow the image to take up the entire monitor. The viewer also will have the option of choosing from a variety of screen sizes, as well as picking standard or high definition.

Users also can send links that can be posted elsewhere online, where they can launch cued to a particular scene mid-episode. Video on ABC.com also will be more easy to sift through, with thumbnail images that offer a glimpse of the story line progression in each episode.

The new player will be tested in a closed beta over the summer before launching ahead of ABC's premiere week in the fall. ABC.com uses technology from Move Networks for its player. 

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