Netflix and ABC streaming videos on iPad – Badass or just bad?

When Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad earlier this year, he showed off some headlining apps that would be available for the tablet device on launch. Two of those apps were the ABC and the Netflix iPad apps. The apps promised to turn your iPad into a movie-streaming, TV-watching tablet that would give your TV and computer some self-worth issues. No doubt, many of the 500,000 iPads sold in its launch week went to fans eager to use the new-fangled Apple tablet with the idea of shunning their TV for a while and catching up on episodes of ABC’s Castle or a new release move on Netflix. But, are those apps all that they’re cracked up to be? Do the available shows and movies live up to expectations? Let’s take a look.

This is a look at Netflix’s Watch Instantly library of movies and TV shows.:

Take a look at the ABC iPad app:

Depending on your movie tastes, I’d argue that Netflix is a bit of a letdown. I assumed, somewhat naively perhaps, that the Netflix on iPad experience would essentially be like streaming all of the movies in my local Blockbuster’s New Releases section. That’s not the case. The selection is a bit limited.

On the upside, though, you get a varied selection of movies through Netflix. Regardless of your movie genre preferences, you’ll probably find a movie to keep you busy on any random night. The app is responsive and loads movies quickly over a broadband WiFi connection. If only it had a broader selection of movies.

The ABC Player iPad app comes off as a little more polished than the Netflix app, but offers far fewer available streaming video titles. You get access to all of ABC’s headlining TV shows, but not all shows give you current episodes. That’s a bit of a letdown. I like the scrubbing feature that lets you move around the episode at will, especially when you have to continue watching, say, Castle halfway through the episode. Overall, great execution of the app, but I’d like to see more available episodes for all shows.

So, what do you think? Do the streaming video iPad apps that promised to change the way you watch movies and TV shows live up to your expectations? If you’re an iPad user, have you found the apps to be everything you thought they’d be? If you’ve been considering an iPad buy has the content selection we’ve shown you here influenced your decision one way or the other? Will you be buying an iPad in hopes of putting all that ABC and Netflix has to offer in your lap?

Sound off in the comments section below and let us know if you think those apps are all that it’s cracked up to be!

  • jerry

    WTF? Are you for real?

    The important question you didn’t address is how netflix to the ipad compares to general netflix instant watching.

    It’s long been known that netflix instant watching is limited. Why are you comparing the iPad to their DVD inventory, when they proper comparison is to what they stream to the desktop?

    • henry

      well said Jerry

      • CJA

        exactly, I expected the article to be about the quality of the app and service. Not online netflix content and subjective judging of value. Thanks for getting the word out about neflix and ipad though.

  • william stein

    1. The netflix website and app stream the same shows as far as I can tell.
    2. I frequently (attempt to) use netflix to watch movies and tv shows on my home wireless network. On my Playstation 3 Netflix is rock solid. On my computer, it usually works fairly well. On my IPad it is *always* totally useless crud – maybe 20 seconds play, the it hangs for a minute, then 20 seconds play, etc. This is all on the same network, and my ipad otherwise works perfectly on this network.

    So despute promise, in my experience the Netflix app on iPad is completely and totally worthless at present. Verdict: Just Bad

    • otto

      I watch netflix on my iPad quite a bit. No difference between the iPad, desktop or PS3. Every once in a while I get a hang on all three. Very rarely. I think you may have some sort of network issue. Maybe you have the dreaded iPad wifi problem. Maybe you’re tyring to stream netflix while someone else is hammering the system trying to stream something else. I dont know, but I dont think its the netflix app

  • Steven Hoober

    Agree with jerry above, but started to get used to this from various bloggers. Please set reviewers who have some idea what the baseline experience is. We shoot down blog entries sometimes by bouncing them off others in the office.

    While stream as a whole is lame largely because of rights, that part is the same on all devices. NF subscribers are all going to be used to this and not care about that. But the little interface differences sorta confused me. I expected it to be like all the embedded NF experiences, like DVD players and Roku.

  • Jeff Cahill

    The apps are great an do exactly what they say they will do. The main complaint is the lack of content. You can lay that squarely on the content providers. For Netflix, you can lay the blame at the feet of the movie studios. I’m quit sure that Netflix would absolutely love to be able to stream to users the current releases of all the new movies…but it’s the studios that aren’t cooperating. ABC is in the same boat…the content providers are the ones keeping all the shows from being streamable.

  • otto

    I’ve watched Netflix and ABC videos to catch up on shows I’ve missed or watch some of the oddball stuff Netflix has on their streaming service. If they ever start streaming their premium content stuff it could be “game over” for a lot of the cable providers. The fact is that as I’ve grown used to using my iPad I find I’m watching less and less movies/videos and browsing/reading/playing games more.

  • John Scarbrough

    IPAD3 NETFLIX VERIZON streaming video sucks BIG itime! What can I do, drop NETFLIX AGAIN?

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