Friday, January 04, 2008

Hulu transforms (again) the way I watch television

OK, here's the timeline:

  1. I move to college. I'm not willing to pay for cable because TV is crap, so I don't.
  2. I finish up college. I subscribe to cable since that seems like the right thing to do, but hate how much it costs.
  3. I get TIVO. My viewing habits are transformed, and I can now follow my favorite shows. Since I don't have to schedule my life around the networks, I fall in love with The Daily Show, 24, and shows like Scrubs and The Office.
  4. I get an HD TV. To watch HD programming, cable bills skyrocket. Their service stumbles, and out of frustration I cancel my service.
  5. I discover that I can get good-enough quality television online. Since my computer (a mac mini) is plugged into my HD TV, I can watch it all in huge-screen glory. For free (mostly). I haven't found a show I wanted to watch that I haven't been able to get online, other than the Food Network, sadly.
Most people that I talk to know all about how to watch mainstream television online - meaning full-length shows distributed by major networks. They think of or iTunes, which actually work out great. I can really get anything I want there, either for free or paying for a show subscription, like $10/month for the Daily Show.

Using Hulu, despite its mixed initial reactions, has been awesome for my online-TV experience, and gives me more and more confidence that the Internet is already replacing cable as a distribution channel for content.
  1. The HD Gallery is amazing. Sure, it's only movie trailers now, but the proof-of-concept is that all content will be able to stream in HD within a few years.
  2. They continually add shows. I was initially skeptical of Hulu because of their close affiliation with the NBC and FOX networks. But the amount of content there now and added since I joined has been very compelling.
  3. Browsing and playing shows is easy.
  4. Ads are there, but they're well-embedded into the player. No need to adjust anything when the ads are done like the network's sites.
  5. The playlist feature is awesome. I can queue up shows (like a Netflix queue) and play them all, back-to-back. It's a great way to get into new shows from the start, like Chuck or Heroes.
I particularly like that though they're building a great site, they're also making it easy for people to embed the videos different places (like this clip below). That open approach is surprising from a site so close to the networks, but will help Hulu's success immensely. Now numerous video sites are supported by Hulu's content - and I'm guessing that Hulu gets a cut of the ads embedded in the content.

Anyway, enjoy Hulu...

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