Now, three years later, many consumers exclusively watch TV online. Free streaming is cutting into the networks' traditional revenue streams, causing Fox, NBC Universal and Disney to reconsider Hulu's business model.
In a wonderfully in-depth story this morning, The Wall Street Journal examined the form Hulu could take in the future. Would you watch Hulu if it were a live-streaming cable provider instead of its current iteration?
Ben Parr at Mashable makes a good point when he says that if GO only goes to HBO subscribers and no one else, it's only going to be a niche thing. He suggests that HBO open some parts of it to everyone (with advertising) and then have other features and videos that are only available to HBO subscribers.
This has actually been in the works for a while. We first reported on it back in 2006.
[via Pop Candy]
When Neil Patrick Harris hosted the Emmys, Dr. Horrible conveniently invaded for a moment, spreading webseries fear throughout the TV industry audience. It was a funny bit, serving mainly as a vehicle for some jokes about buffering and tiny screen sizes. Hopefully that made the TV people feel better, if only for a little while, because online video is showing no signs of stopping.
It's called XFinity, which sounds like that name for the next Stargate spinoff but is actually a new part of the Fancast site where you can watch TV shows from channels like HBO, AMC, A&E, STARZ, The History Channel, and Cinemax. That means you can watch shows like True Blood, Entourage, Mad Men, The Colbert Report, Big Love, and many other shows. (By the way, right now Fancast is running a marathon of Friends Christmas episodes.)
Now that Comcast owns a big chunk of NBC, I wonder how this service could someday be combined with Hulu in some way, or if launching this service will affect Hulu in other ways.
Among the many full episodes of BBC programming now awaiting your computer's perusal is the creepy 1981 production of Day of the Triffids. Most pop culture and horror buffs know the title from the 1962 monster movie of the same title. But this BBC production was a much more faithful and in-depth production of John Wyndham's book.
The online series serves as a great lead-in to the new BBC production of Triffids -- set to premiere Dec. 28.
Now, EastEnders is set to kick off its own web spinoff series next year. According to a Beeb press release, the online BBC Vision Multiplatform commissioned EastEnders: E20 to go live in January, 2010.
In addition to taking advantage of TV's online evolution, the web series will help to celebrated the EastEnders 25th anniversary.
Now, the question is if anyone in Hollywood can catch on to moves like these and adapt more successful U.S. shows into big name web series. Shows like 24 tried brief web dalliances, but nothing this ambitious has yet to take flight from American networks.
Hey you. Yeah, you - guy wasting company time by watching last week's episode of Heroes on Hulu. Enjoying it? Well, get ready to cough up some cash to find out what happens next.
In a move that we've all long feared was probably inevitable anyway, Chase Carey, deputy chairman of News Corp. (one of Hulu's co-owners) annouced that Hulu would begin charging users. According to Broadcasting & Cable, Hulu's fees could start as early as 2010.
You may commence booing now.
According to a network press release, USA Network and Sleep Inn Hotels (No, I don't get the connection, either...) teamed up to launch USA's first live-action original web series on usanetwork.com, Little Monk.
The web series seeks to explore the origins of the anal-retentive and obsessive Monk's chronic conditions.
The months long Writers Guild of America strike that began November 1 of 2007 touched off a storm from which Hollywood still hasn't recovered. It slowed not only the production of new TV shows but the purchase and development of fresh material. The jury is still out on whether the settlement agreement that ended it all accomplish much for writers -- or merely set-up another strike in 2011.
Reports say, during the work stoppage, a group of top-shelf TV creators decided to step out of the traditional production model and develop material just for the web.
This is a clever marketing ploy by Fox. The demographic for those shows definitely leans towards the young, and since college students are more exposed to computers than anybody I know who doesn't work in the industry (and are probably more used to watching stuff online rather than on the television), the idea has definite appeal.
Mind you, such systems can be fooled, particularly if you have a friend or relative with a .edu address (or so I've heard). With that in mind, I don't understand why Fox wouldn't just offer this to everybody. I can only guess that it's a way for Fox to control illegal downloading of these highly anticipated shows.
If I were to sit down and think about it, I would guess that I've watched five or six hours of television every single day since 1970.
Now, that might seem like an outlandish number to many people. After all, didn't I go to school and later work? Yes I did. But I can honestly say that when I got home from school I watched TV until 11 at night, every single night, and a lot more during the summer (and I even found time to go outside to play baseball!). Today I have the TV on from approximately 8 AM until well after midnight. That's a lot of TV watching over the years.
I thought of that when I read this article that says Americans are watching more television than ever.
Rob Owen of TV Q&A at the Post Gazette discovered that ABC had posted the "we're not canceled" cliffhanger ending online by mistake earlier this week. One of his readers asked, "Much to my surprise the episode on the Internet had a different ending than what was shown on TV. It ended with Jack's ex-girlfriend, Lynn, leaving their baby girl on the doorstep of Marin's house and driving off."
Owen confirmed that ABC had indeed posted the wrong ending online for a short time. He also expects that Warner Bros. will save both endings for a DVD release.
I know, I know, a lot of you are thinking "I always watch Seinfeld online!" But now you can do it legally.
TBS is streaming episodes of the show on their web site. Right now it looks like there are only four episodes you can watch: "The Truth," "The Muffin Tops," "The Yada Yada," and "The Millennium." I was going to say that these are four classic episodes of the show, but then again I would say that approximately 98% of the episodes could probably be considered classic. If you're like me and you've seen each episode 55 times, this might not seem like a big deal (especially since it's on at least twice a night and there are DVDs), but it's a good option to have I guess (sorry Mac users - TBS hates you).
And that, in a nutshell is why you probably don't watch streaming or downloaded videos on your TV. It's just too complicated. If your computer is next to your PC, you probably need to buy a new video card that will let you run a cable from your PC to TV. And if you're like most people your PC is in a completely different room and you'll need to get a $300+ box which plugs into your TV so that you can stream video over your home network.
But as Techdirt's Tim Lee points out, shelling out the money for additional hadware is only the tip of the iceberg. You also need to find the right hardware for your operating system and software. If you download your movies from iTunes, Amazon, MovieLink, or Vongo, you'll need to make sure you have the right hardware to support your online video store of choice. And if you use multiple services, good luck. Oh yeah, and good luck trying watching Joost, VeohTV, Vuze, or Babelgum using a media extender.
While we don't expect everyone to start using the same video codecs anytime soon, it's interesting to note that Amazon, Apple, and other online music stores are starting to offer DRM-free music. Maybe one day we'll see the same thing happen with online video and as long as your hardware can support a wide selection of codecs, you'll have no problems playing any video on it.
We first told you about Vudu back in April. But if you promptly forgot about it, here are the details. It's little black box that lets you download 5,000 movies from major studios and independent producers. But you'll have to pay. Prices range from $.99 to $3.99 for rentals and $4.99 to $19.99 for purchases. That's on top of the $400 you pay to buy the box.
Oh yeah, and once you buy a movie, it's stuck on the box. You can store up to 100 movies at a time, but once you fill your Vudu up, there's no option to transfer files to a spare hard drive, PC, or burn to DVD.
On the upside, CNet reports that the video quality is pretty good and that videos begin to stream almost immediately after a download begins.
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