Tag Archives: hulu

Today’s Crime: Watching Top Chef On My iPhone

Bravo Logo
Um, Bravo?

I have to shake my head in utter bewilderment when it comes to how the networks are fighting to come to grips with distribution in the digital age.

While sites like Hulu and apps like Boxee are great steps, they still make it impossible to watch shows outside of a stable WiFi hotspot.  What is this great fear of portability all about?  Why can I watch the show on my computer but not my iPhone. Why can I watch it in my apartment but not on the subway.

Obviously, there is a pretty simple way for me to solve this problem: if I want to take a show with me I download it from a BitTorrent site like PirateBay.  There I can get the complete episode in an open format that I can covert easily and move to my iPhone.  I also get the episode completely commercial-free.

What leaves me baffled is why the networks don’t simply offer a downloadable version with embedded ads.  Sure, I like ad-free but I’d rather get my entertainment through approved channels if possible.  Just like I, and many others, are happy to put up with ads on Hulu in exchange for free content, the same would go for content I download.

Instead, in some vain attempt to, um, protect their DVD sales(?) they force me to go get content from a “pirate” site and lose the potential ad revenue, too.

Silly networks…

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Free Anti-Piracy Advice to NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX et. al.

According to a post on NewTeeVee:

Regardless of how many ads were shown, 90 percent of ABC.com viewers continued to say they’d rather get the show for free than pay to get it without ads.

Why aren’t the TV networks releasing copies of their shows to pirate sites complete with the ads built in?  While I do love my ad-free TV torrents, I tend to watch on Boxee even with the ads since there is simply no wait.  However, I miss being able to download and watch the show on other devices or outside of a wifi hotspot.

I think most people would be perfectly ok with downloading a show with the ads built in.  Sure, one could fast-forward past them but most people don’t bother, especially if the ads are short and varied.

Not only would the networks actually get to show advertisers an ever larger pool of eyeballs but they would be putting the pirates right out of business.

Just thinking aloud…

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Cutting the Cable – How I Canceled My Cable, Saved $1000/yr and Still Get TV!

Image representing Boxee as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Just about two weeks ago I completely severed my Time Warner Cable TV service that was costing me right about $80/month.

This was not because I was tired of TV.  In fact, TV is part of my job and keeping up on what’s on is pretty darn important.  Also, I sort of like TV sometimes, so I was not trying to get rid of the content.

So, what have I replaced my cable with?  Here’s the rundown:

1) Boxee – Boxee is still in alpha but I love it.  It is an app that pulls all the major networks web portals into a convenient central location and is completely controlable by my tiny little Mac remote.  Boxee currently gets me access to Hulu, CBS, WB, CNN, Comedy Central and a bunch of other stuff.  Plus, with my Netflix account, the somewhat disappointing but still cool list of “watch now” films and TV shows are also a click away.

2) EyeTV – This is a TV converter that lets me run an over-the-air HD antenna right into my MacBook Pro.  Since I live in NYC this gets me access to HD versions of NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CW, whatever UPN is called now and a few random things from Ion.

I also got a 20″ external LCD monitor for $99 at Staples and have a set of inexpensive speakers that go into the headphone jack.

This gets me a vast amount of programming for a very low cost.

The few drawbacks: Still some sports I will have to go to a bar to see – but fewer every day and more networks live-stream.  I bought a super-cheap HD antenna and think I will need to upgrade.  To get a really constant signal means a bit of moving the antenna if I change channels.  Still, the picture is great.

There are also a few shows I love that I just can’t get through any network-approved method.  In these rare instances I take advantage of BitTorrent.  While it might fall into the not-quite-legal category it seems pretty obvious how they can stop me – offer the programs online with limited commercials and I am there!

Overall, while it takes a bit more work to get up and running than just flipping on the TV, I find I am more thoughtful about what and when I watch and I also get a huge satisfaction out of the knowledge that Time Warner Cable, a crappy monopoly, is only getting my $40/month for RoadRunner.  If anyone knows a comparable service available in Manahattan please let me know.

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Dear HBO, Showtime, et. al., Your Business Model is Absurd

HBO Signature logo in the US
Image via Wikipedia

It just sort of dawned on me how completely ridiculous the whole notion of a network like HBO is in today’s digital world.

Back when HBO was born, their big offering was the chance to see lots and lots of movies for a pretty low price.  Sure, you had to wait maybe a year for it to make it there from the big screen, and you had to watch it when they decided to air it and you had to want to see the movies they had licensed.

For a time, this wasn’t a bad deal.  It was a good enough deal that millions decided to pay an extra $20 or whatever for that programming. But that was before DVRs and Hulu and Boxee and NetFlix WatchNow and all the other ways I can watch all the same basic movies HBO (et. al.) offers but I can decide when I want to watch them and it’s FREE!.

Now, HBO (et. al.) are trying to convince people that, while you can see the same movies they charge you to watch for free through other methods BUT check it out, now they have original programming. Actually, they’ve had that for decades, but now it is the centerpiece, it’s what they’re asking you to pay for – and they’re asking for the same amount of money as before.

So, to review, HBO wants me to pay them a premium above and beyond my basic cable fees to watch original dramas and comedies. Isn’t that what all the basic cable channels already do? Sure, they have ads, but that’s what DVR is for.

That leaves only two things HBO (et. al.) still offer that you can’t get on basic cable – boobs and cursing.  Is that really worth $20 a month? Really?

Oh, and that HBO show you love enough to pay for, “Flight of the Conchords?”  Yeah, HBO is premiering the new season on FunnyOrDie.com. That’s a free website they bought.

Why the hell are people paying for HBO (et. al.)? Seriously? No kidding.  Leave me a comment.

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YouTube Wins Again – Does Any Other Video Site Matter?

There was a post on TechDirt that got me thinking:

“While Hulu surprised many critics with a well-designed site, it appears that Hulu hasn’t been able to generate the type of traffic executives expected. So, despite it being a YouTube competitor, Hulu has tucked its tail between its legs and set up its own channel on YouTube. Apparently, the “build it and they will come” philosophy of NBC Universal’s execs didn’t work quite as well as planned.”

It’s true that Hulu is a nicely designed site that is well organized and easy to use.  The default player is better than YouTube’s, too.  They even have a ton of the top shows on TV that, prior to this moment, were not readily available in their complete form on YouTube.  None of that, it turns out, seems to have mattered.  To generate truly significant views, at least in the US, you’ve gotta be on YouTube.

That makes me wonder if any of the current YouTube “competitors” can actually survive.  Will YouTube become the place we all just go for video in much the way we basically all go to Google for search?

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Whole Lot on Hulu

There is an interview with Hulu CEO Jason Kilar over on PaidContent.  They cover a bunch of interesting topics.  This comment stood out:

“This is about distribution. A lot of people assume that the whole thing is the destination of hulu.com. Yes, that’s an important paet of our business and yes, I do believe that will grow very rapidly, but in conjunction with that, we want the distribution business to grow as fast because it’s important to be in the neighborhood that people frequent in their daily lives.”

It seems that many more of the “big boys” are realizing that the days of destination-driven entertainment are drawing to a close.  For content to be relevant people are going to need to be able to access it on a variety of platforms in an on-demand fashion.

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Hulu Continues to Underwhelm

I could probably fill this blog just with negative links about Hulu but mostly they rehash the same issues like lack of portability.  However, the folks at Silicon Valley Insider have done some number crunching and figure that, at best, NBCU’s annual cut would be somewhere around $125,000 – that’s before expenses.

Check out this post for how they got that number.

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