All Things Tarun

  • 11:59:50 am on June 30, 2010 | 0
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Hulu has begun what is seemingly a revolution — taking their on-demand TV/movie streaming service and making users pay a fee to watch full backlogs of their favorite shows on all sorts of devices: computers, iPhones, and other mobile devices to start with. Soon this will expand to internet-ready TVs and video game consoles.

    Hulu was a frequent website I’d visit until I discovered other TV streaming websites that are not only less crowded with commercials but also contained full backlogs for free. Their ads are unique in that you can vote for whether they are relevant, but I haven’t ever noticed the outcome of this democratic advertising process. It seems more like a way to keep people engaged in the content rather than submissive like that of watching the TV at home. If ads are the way that content is free, then I’d rather have one large ad at the beginning and then have uninterrupted content for the rest of the viewing experience. Most TV shows, especially reality TV, have a lot of strategically placed products for people to oogle at anyway. Shouldn’t they be paying Hulu as well?

    But, you have to admire the concept: $10 a month for a lot of on-demand TV, with the promise of having latest episodes on the web only a day after release (for many). And full backlogs of the current season, which allows you to catch up. They claim to also have all seasons for a lot of popular shows, like The Office and 30 Rock (hilarious show, btw). This definitely beats a cable bill by a huge margin. If you can really master the syncing from all of your devices (I’d have my iPhone 4, computer, and PS3/Wii/Xbox hooked up), then this service is definitely for you, especially if you can’t stand “breaks” in content.

    So what’s wrong with it? It’s hard to say price given the relative savings on cable. But, there are some things that cable/satillite TV provides that an internet streaming service like Hulu doesn’t as it stands:

    • Some people like to see the episode when everyone else does: If a new episode of the Office were to be the final episode of Steve Carrell’s career, you’d want to be the first to watch it so you can talk about it with your friends and not be a day (or hours, at best) behind. Internet streaming needs to be able to deliver content in the same way “live” fashion that TV does. ESPN and other services do sports live — why not TV in general?
    • Commercial breaks allow for mental breaks: Sometimes commercials provide a suspenseful element to the show, and there needs to be a pause before action can be resumed. You’ve seen it a lot on shows like House or CSI.
    • It isn’t that easy: People will need to set up these devices, open up apps, wait for buffering, sign up for accounts…do a lot of stuff that network television from the wall doesn’t require. You just plug and play to watch TV. If hulu is going to penetrate the home, all TVs that are shipped need internet capability and an instant dashboard to streaming content. Manufacturers should embrace the movement and have it so after a one-time set up, you can just turn on the TV and select the show. Samsung TV’s are well on their way to be the first to do this. I’m sure more will follow (and that this will become more prevalent as compared to the 3D TV revolution).

    I do hope that Hulu can kick things off and more networks can realize the power of this service and its potential for the future. For now though, I’ll stick with cable.

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