CNN decided to offer free access to its new “Pipeline” service today, and never one to miss the opportunity to save $2.95 (a month), I took them up on it.
Pipeline offers four live streaming feeds, plus access to previously recorded CNN stories. They highlight the top stories of the day, and allow you to browse by categories like World, U.S., Business, Entertainment, and the rest of the usual suspects. Additionally, Pipeline provides links to text versions of stories, which makes it easy to dig deeper.
As one with a lot of video clip watching experience, I can tell you that technically Pipeline works great. The clips start quickly, they play well, and did I mention that there are no commercials? (I know, what will I do without the Microsoft dinosaur head people?)
One minor quibble: this morning it seemed like there were some CNN clips available through the regular free channels that hadn’t yet made it to Pipeline. But that’s just an impression — I can’t really prove it, and a spot check now shows clips to be equally available both by free and paid access.
So if the clips are equally available, why pay for the service? Again, there’s the no commercials factor. Is that worth ten cents a day to you, if you pay by the month? Or less than seven cents a day if you buy a year at a time? And then there are the four streaming feeds, which are only available on Pipeline. At the moment, two of those feeds happen to be from the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, with fixed cameras overlooking Bourbon Street, and lots of drunken hooting and hollering going on. Another feed is a Senate hearing over the Dubai Ports deal (the kind of thing you’d never watch on C-Span). But the fourth feed is a world news report just like you’d get on CNN… but again, no commercials. At the moment, it’s also about the Dubai ports deal, but I’m seeing multiple reports, covering the situation from a variety of angles. (How the Coast Guard didn’t like the deal, how people in Dubai feel about it, how the President continues to defend the deal). Much more complete certainly than you’d see on broadcast television.
Pipeline is very much a web 2.0 service. They aren’t just putting a cable TV feed onto your computer screen – there’s a dedicated anchor from the Pipeline Center, who also suggests items of interest on the CNN home page.
Overall, I like it a lot. It’s clearly worth the money, both in freedom from commercials, and additional services. The only drawback – and the reason Pipeline subscribers should still visit the The Directory@ClipBlast and subscribe to The Blog@ClipBlast – is that Pipeline can only give you CNN’s take on a story. Certainly, one of the great things about all the free internet video clips being provided by operations like CBS, NBC, The BBC, Reuters, and the rest is that you get differing angles and points of view. And of course those other producers are going to cover stories or offer features that CNN just won’t have.
Bottom line: If you like to follow the news, and enjoy the additional feature reporting, and won’t be distracted from what you’re really supposed to be doing on your computer, CNN’s Pipeline is an excellent choice to add to your collection of internet video resources.