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Oct. 17, 2008, 12:13 p.m.

Starring the New Gray Lady

The New York Times has quietly unveiled a new widescreen video player that appears to run more smoothly than its previous iteration. The most obvious change is that NYT videos can now be viewed in full screen. But there’s still no way to embed videos on web pages elsewhere, which limits the content’s potential reach.

In a few tests of the new player, I found the videos are sharper, load faster, and skip less frequently than before, so now you can see every fleck of ground cardamom in Mark Bittman’s sweet couscous. Scrolling through videos is also easier. Watching these in fullscreen, it’s clear the viewing experience at the NYT is approaching the quality at auteur video sites like Vimeo and Blip.TV. Check out, for example, this stunning video by T, the Times’ fashion magazine.

Still, the inability to embed Times video on others sites is a drag. The Washington Post, which also uses the 16:9 widescreen format, seems to have found success — and a broader audience — with its embedding function. Dana Milbank’s drinking-game video at Wednesday’s presidential debate was widely embedded across the blogosphere. And the Post still generates revenue from pre-roll ads they sell.

The Times does have a YouTube channel where some, though not most, videos are posted and embedable. Responding to a question about video embedding two years ago, Lawrie Mifflin, who oversaw video and television at the Times, told readers that “our primary focus must be on attracting viewers to our own site.” A lot has changed in two years, and the Times’ reluctance on this issue might have to change, too.

POSTED     Oct. 17, 2008, 12:13 p.m.
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