The Battlestar Galactica spin-off series, Blood and Chrome is now available on YouTube via the Machinima channel (videos below). When the first preview of Blood and Chrome leaked out on the Internet, it was unknown where the series would show up first: the SyFy channel, the web or some other distribution channel. According to the LA Times, the plan was to develop a series that was well suited to an “on-line distribution channel” with the option to develop it into a full-length feature on SyFy. So, here we are with the first two episodes on YouTube with a planned airing on SyFy for next February along with a Blu-ray and DVD release.
At first, I was apprehensive about watching the 10-episode web series on YouTube. I thought it might be better to watch the series on Blu-ray or when it aired on SyFy. Blood and Chrone, unlike Caprica, the other Galactica prequel, is full of action sequences and space battles. Would YouTube really provide the audio and video quality necessary to do it justice?
The first two episodes are available in 1080P resolution on YouTube. However, from what I can tell YouTube doesn’t stream in 5.1 surround sound. The audio appears to be limited to 2 channel stereo. I expect YouTube will upgrade their service sometime in the future, as you can upload video with 5.1 audio (and up to 4K video for that matter).
I then wondered what connected device would provide the best YouTube experience in the Living Room? I tried out the TiVo Premiere, Apple TV 3rd generation and the Panasonic BDT-220 Blu-ray player. Of the three, the Panasonic offered the least desirable YouTube experience. I had trouble logging in with my YouTube account and the video quality appeared to be limited to standard defintion.
Both the TiVo Premiere and Apple TV provided much better audio and video quality from YouTube. Both devices appeared to stream Blood and Chrome in HD. The audio is limited to 2-channel PCM stereo. However, if you turn on Dolby PL II surround processing on your A/V receiver, it makes a big difference. It seems the PL II processing is pulling out a surround track that’s encoded into the stream. The surround sound effects coupled with Bear McCreary’s score are pretty awesome. Fans of the original Battlestar Galactica series will appreciate the treatment McCreary provides when the legendary battlestar first appears.
While the Apple TV and TiVo provide similar audio and video quality, I actually prefer using YouTube on the Apple TV. It’s easier to navigate in YouTube on Apple TV. Apple TV also appears to buffer more of the content allowing you to fast forward and rewind more easily. One better way to control the TiVo YouTube app is to pair it with the YouTube mobile app. Some of the probems I found months ago with the TiVo YouTube app appear to be fixed (i.e. my subscribed channels now show up).
Is watching the Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome via YouTube the best way to watch it? No, but it’s close enough given the price. Die-hard Galactica fans will still pick up the unrated Blu-ray version. It looks like Syfy’s multi-channel distribution experiement is working. After being available for a weekend on YouTube, the first episode of Blood and Chrome has a almost a million views.