Media Analyst Don Cole traveled 200,000 miles per year annually for decades visited with local TV stations, cable interconnects, magazines, clients, client prospects, and all sorts of new media sales teams.
He believes that Nothing Can Replace Television and It Almost Has!
He gives wonderful write-up on the progression that the cancer that network tv is suffering from.
He begins with where the symptoms are worst and (ironically) least visible: Local Affiliates.
What I see and hear stuns me. The broadcast media, as a group, are in almost complete denial about what is going on in our world of media. When the relentless march of broadcast fragmentation is brought up, local station people respond with “have you seen our local news. It is extraordinary.” I have and it is not.
Ask industry people about how DVR’s are changing the effectiveness of TV as an advertising medium and the more mature (in age only) say something to the effect that they hope they will be retired before the effects are truly felt in the marketplace. What kind of answer is that?.
He touches on our POV a bit.
Today’s consumers are now in control and they are not going back to being passive viewers again. Life “on-demand’ appeals to people. DVR’s, blogs, You tube, Hulu.com, The Slingbox, streaming video, new cable platforms, and many other possibilities have permanently upset the TV landscape. Watch how a young adult uses media–are you positioning your campaigns to reach young people well or at all for that matter?
…but then goes into Protectionist Mode.
There is also a terrible danger with the presence of legacy mentalities out there. People sit in meetings and nod vigorously when I say that TV is losing its luster as a sales medium. But, moments later they say something to the effect that the solution to TV’s slow death is simply adding more weight. Add more weight? They will still miss the people that they are missing now! All additional weight will do is add significant frequency to the same folks they reach now who are heavy TV viewers and not always the most desirable prospects.
He does touch on TV’s tool as a currently-ubiquitous communication medium and laments the loss of roadblocks and vertical strikes, but fails to understand that the underlying goal that those tools provided – to get information out to a majority percentage of the population – will not die with it.
Just as the death of newspapers doesn’t mark the end of journalism, the death of TV isn’t killing mass-media.
The middlemen will shift. Those that adapt will survive. Those who would apply radio rules to magazines and billboard rules to TV will try to get TV rules to apply to the internet.
Open-source media center Boxee debuted a new Alpha release tonight, adding support for Pandora music streaming, PBS video feeds, and changes that open it up to more multimedia goodness (oh, and fix Hulu streaming, too).
Here’s a look at what’s new in the latest build, as well as the newest plug-in from some Boxee-loving code tweakers:
Continue reading @ Lifehacker
The event, held in NYC, drew a large and diverse crowd
Vincent Polidoro, a 25-year-old filmmaker in New York who persuaded Mr. Clemons to attend the gathering, said he had recently joined the ranks of those who adore the service, which many people use to pipe video from a computer to a TV screen.
“It’s nice to have an alternative way to get content,” he said. “I’m sick of being married to Comcast or some other service provider.” Attending the Boxee event, he said, reinforced the idea that “the Internet is our medium and finally, here is a service that gets how we want to use it.”
Looking around the room and seeing his peers, he said, made him like the service even more.
Tom Conrad, chief technology officer at Pandora, the streaming music service, said he was amazed at the turnout and by the makeup of the audience, which he said seemed fairly mainstream. This could indicate a larger shift in the way audiences are consuming entertainment: “Just the fact alone that 80 percent of Boxee users have it connected to their television, that stat alone amazes me,” he said.
Could it be possible that, after all this time, NBC still thinks that it’s a good business decision to try to squeeze the few internet viewers that actually pay for content for extra payments?
Thomas Fitzgerald writes:
So the season Finale of Battlestar Galactica aired on friday night on the SciFi (sorry, SyFy) channel in the US and I think it would be fair to say that the two hour episode was one of the most eagerly awaited events on television in years. The show has a huge fan base and the much publicized finale was something everyone was gearing up for. Of course a lot of people get their shows off iTunes and this was probably one of the most eagerly awaited downloads since iTunes began selling TV shows. So you can only imagine how pissed off a lot of people were when they decided to split the finale into two parts on iTunes so they could charge twice as much for it.
People want to pay for content. I know the execs at NBC and every other major studio don’t believe that, but a lot of people are willing to pay for good high quality access to their favorite TV shows. But they don’t like being taken advantage of either. As many commenters on iTunes have pointed out, it’s crap like this that pushes people back to bit-torrent.
Read the whole rant @ It’s crap like this that makes people pirate
An Internet Poll asks: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet?
In early results, 52% says they either stream or download shows, and a full 24% of those who responded answered “Yes! I’ve cut the cable and am a 100% internet TV watcher.”
I’ll keep you posted if things change.
Digg @ Digg.com
Tiny Arrow URL: http://➹.ws/ﱴ
Speaking of Boxee, if you live in New York (or will happen to be there on March 24), then you should check out the boxee meetup.
They will be releasing a new alpha version during the event and will “share some concrete plans for the beta”.
If you DO attend, send me some pictures.
When I cut the cable six months ago, there was almost nothing to watch online (legally). Now you can get almost every network TV show, many cable TV favorites, watch live sports, get cable and network news, local weather, and even watch full un-cut movies – legally and free.
I’m beginning to see more and more articles about cutting cable and streaming everything. I don’t think the internet is quite ready for that. I still download over half of my content, but I am streaming more and more.
After my technophobic brother took to Hulu, I started wondering how far streaming has come in six months and how newbie friendly it is. Most of the Networks are doing a good job pimping their websites, so I figure this is how most newbies would take their first steps.
Broadcast Networks: Primetime
The American Broadcasting Company’s page is filled with clicky goodness, and free episodes is in large red lettering. OK, it’s a giant advertisement for their linear-delivery network – but it seems internet-delivery friendly enough. A loop of 8 short videos plays in a flash player and they do a pretty good job of explaining the ins and outs of watching TV on the web between the commercials for Scrubs and Desperate Housewives. If only watching the episodes themselves was as simple.
ABC still insists on using their Full Episode Player, which is a separate browser plug-in. The last time I used it it was slow to load, choppy to navigate, and had only one episode of each show online at a time. Yikes. I was reluctant to click it. I shouln’t have been.
What a great improvement! Not only in stability and speed, but in usability.
There isn’t a very big archive, but if you want to watch new episodes, ABC.com has you covered.
After ABC’s clean site the National Broadcasting Company’s site looks like a barrage of text, a newspaper.
I scanned the page several times before I saw Watch Video or Watch Full Episodes.
Their navigation system is confusing, and what shows up on the page depends on how you navigate to it. If you first click Watch Video in the toolbar then choose a show, you can never get to the same info as you would have found had you clicked “Watch Full Episodes”.
NBC’s site has a lot of content, but considering it’s all mirrored at Hulu, It’s hard to find a reason to go to NBC.com.
The Columbia Broadcasting System is the farthest behind. The page is one giant advertisement for their liner-delivery method. It’s filled with clips, re-caps, behind-the-scenes fluff pieces, and teaser-trailers for upcoming episodes. The kind of shovel-ware content that DVD producers have been calling “Special Features” so every release can be called a Special Edition. Every click on their site brings another auto-playing video Blackberry ad.
CBS makes the availability of full episodes less-than-obvious, and when you DO find them CBS makes you join a chat room in order to watch it. Yes, you can opt out but you have to log in first. I chose Late Late Show with Craig Fergeson… which, after a looong load time, I joined in progress. It didn’t start at the beginning! Clicking “Watch By Myself” starts it from the beginning. I guess you can’t be social AND watch from the beginning unless you have impeccable timing or a lot of patience.
Also, CBS viewer is the only Flash Player I’ve ever seen with advertising logos. The social interaction allows you to put the Intel Inside logo and chime on the video, for everyone else watching to see. I don’t know what to say.
CBS has a YouTube Channel, but the content is just as lame.
News Corp. owns 20th Century Fox which owns FOX Television which owns FOX on Demand. F.O.D. is easy to navigate and content is plentiful. The site even seems to put a priority on streaming over broadcast. Didn’t see it when it was on the air? Watch it here! Watch it now! it invites.
Born from a union of Warner Brother’s The WB and Paramonunt’s UPN, The CW is the hot network for young adults. The Full Episodes link on the main page is small, but the content makes up for it. During the regualr season, all the latest episodes are available for instant viewing.
However, today, there are only a handful available for viewing.
Like CBS, the Public Broadcast System’s home page is a barrage of text. Watch Episodes is easy enough to spot, but the collection of videos is a just a fraction of PBS’ archive and it doesn’t seem to be updated with any regularity. Perhaps we should get the new President to put more than just his weekly address on YouTube.
Broadcast Networks: News and Sports
ABC News pulls up like any other news site. In fact, the Watch Video link is so subtle, you might underestimate how Streaming Friendly this site really is. Like it’s parent channel’s site, ABCNews.com use the Full Episode Player, but instead of being designed around Prime Time Programming, it centers on ABC’s News division. Good Morning America, Nightline, World News Now, 20/20… they’re all there in their entirety.
Not very video friendly at all. With some clicking around I found some clips of the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams hosted on an msnbc server.
Cable Networks: Primetime
I used to think of this as the easy to use ABC Network site but with the radical improvement to the Full Episode Player @ ABC.com and ABCNews.com, ABC Family now seems clunky. There’s lots of content, both new and vintage, including some Made-for-TV movies. Full Episodes, Clips and Previews are well balanced.
The Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet
MTV, MTV2, and MTV Music
Cable Networks: News and Sports
Internet Original: News
The Presidential Address
Internet Original: Sports
[NOTE: I wrote this fragment of an article on January 4. By January 6th, much of it was outdated. By January 15th all of my notes for the unwritten article were outdated, too. I’m publishing the article fragment as an “artifact of a long time passed”. Yes, two months ago is a long time.]
My Mac doesn’t have a remote control. It predates the Apple Remote by a year (and even if it didn’t, towers don’t have IR sensors).
For $30ish, I could just buy a RF remote with a USB dongle, but then I wouldn’t have the sleek Apple Remote. Instead, I’d be controlling my Mac with something that looks like a garage door opener.
Instead, my wife got an iPhone.
[She’s nearly got me convinced that I can’t live without one, but I’m holding off as long as I can. My trusty Nokia 6102i is barely two years old, but is breaking. Scotch tape has been holding it together for almost two months, but the other day a small metal piece popped out of the hinge and disappeared into the fourth dimension. Now, every time I flip it open it gets a little worse. I just need it to survive until June/July when the new iModels come out.]
Currently Rowmote is getting the most use. It integrates directly with Front Row and behaves exactly like an Apple Remote, but Remote’s new iTunes DJ integration looks like fun.
The only problem is: When she’s not home, I don’t have a remote controller!
UPDATE: The guys at Boxee shot out an e-mail letting me know that they have a remote in the App Store, but until I get a new Mac or Boxee shows some PPC love, I’ll have to admire from a distance.
So sayeth Dave Winer:
I was bothered by Clay Shirky’s piece about the death of newspapers that got so much play over the last few days, and finally figured out why as I wrote this piece. He says that journalism is being replaced by nothing. This is why the press likes his piece so much, it’s been their main theme: You’ll miss us when we’re gone. The problem with this thesis is that while the press as been declining a new decentralized press has been booting up. I talk about this toward the end of today’s piece. The sources who no longer trust the journos, or aren’t being called by them when they have something to say, are going direct. This is what replaces journalism. It’s happening everywhere (Shirky’s piece is a great example of it). Sometimes the thing that’s hardest to see is what’s right in front of you.
I didn’t realize I was stepping into a pile of Shirky when I referenced it yesterday.
I believe Shirky is “half right”. He’s right about everything that’s crumbling, but he’s wrong about the lack of a replacement.
In a world of interconnected hypertext, I thought the irony was self evident. I was mistaken.
The (unspoken, and therefore way too subtle) joke was: “OH, noes! Print News is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”
The newspapers think they have a lock on news and the death of their news distribution company means the end of news gathering.
Writers will starve!
Newspapers can’t conceive of not being the middlemen between well researched, well written journalism and the reader. Newsmen can’t conceive of a system where they don’t work for a “newspaper”. They get off on a tangent trying to redefine what a “newspaper” is (so the status quo isn’t inturrupted so much).
One side argues that they need to switch from dead trees to web pages and the other side complains about comments on fan blogs getting as much weight as “real newsmen”. Both sides think they need to hurry and neither side realizes that they’ve already been replaced.
They just don’t see it
The replacement was here before the old way started failing. It’s true in music. It’s true in Television and Movies. It’s true in news.
The RIAA thinks they have a lock on music distribution and they preach that the death of their music distribution company means the death of music writing and recording.
Musicians will starve!
The networks think they hav lock on “tv” distribution. They say that the death of their video distribution company means the death of well written, well acted, well produced television.
Actors will starve!
And if they mention the internet at all?
Blogs are unreliable! MySpace is Filled with Amateurs! YouTube Videos are all home videos!
Nevermind the fact that blogs became reliable, MySpace bands got big and Big Bands got MySpace, and The President of the United States got a YouTube Channel.
When I (poorly) made a sarcastic reference to Shirky yesterday, I should have written:
“OH, noes! TV is dying and there’s no replacement yet! We better build one!”
None of these “old media” players understand that the replacement is here already.
Linear delivery, aka “broadcast”, aka “Television as we know it” is dead, but no one has told it, yet.
The old powers are clinging to a delivery/business model that no longer works, demanding to know what’s going to replace television.
To paraphrase Clay Sharky: When someone demands to know how we are going to replace television, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution.
Clay Shirky writes:
They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.
There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.
He wrote it about newspapers, but everything he says applies to television too.
Every activity has a Social Networking angle. First it was just the online companies, trying to get you to IM. Then the entertainment companies trying to sell you music or movies. Then activities like drinking soda to buying shoes came with secret games and online cliques.
It was only a matter of time when anti-social activities attempted to get social. It happened with gamers, why not couch potatoes?
I’ve dragged my feet in creating a Neurotic Nomad Myspace or Facebook page, hoping that OpenID would allow me to take a lazy way out, but apparently it doens’t work that way.
Now that I’m set up, I should open up the dialog.
What’s the biggest question plaguing you right now when it comes to online TV?
Hey! Hulu has a social network. Finally a reason to log in.
Somebody “Friend” me.
Paul Graham writes:
The TV networks already seem, grudgingly, to see where things are going, and have responded by putting their stuff, grudgingly, online. But they’re still dragging their heels. They still seem to wish people would watch shows on TV instead, just as newspapers that put their stories online still seem to wish people would wait till the next morning and read them printed on paper. They should both just face the fact that the Internet is the primary medium.
Part 3 of my series keeps getting postponed because of the fast-changing landscape.
The over-all verdict:
I’ve done a little digging through the CNET Reviews archives to highlight the top 10 boxes/computers for accessing video-on-demand content via the Web. Here’s a brief summary of each, in no particular order. You can see at a glance what makes each one cool and what makes it not so cool. And you’ll get a general idea of how much each one costs.
I’m sorry to say that I haven’t found a box that offers me everything from all the top movies and TV shows to the best local and live TV programming. But the market is still evolving. And I promise you that the landscape could look very different in another 18 months, so stay tuned.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
In the words of Gizmodo’s Matt Buchanan, this is a steaming pile of suck.
Engadget’s Ben Drawbaugh give a glimmer of hope by suggesting that this may signal great things to come.
In a press release, Hulu writes “During Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday, look for the launch of Hulu’s ad campaign. Finally, we’ll reveal the secret behind Hulu.”
Caroline McCarthy said it best.
Ooh! Secrets! I love secrets! Clearly we will learn one of three things this Sunday:
1. Hulu is the Matrix.
2. Hulu is Luke Skywalker’s father.
3. Hulu is people.
Hulu (via Cnet)
Next time you’re dealing with a dreadfully slow internet connection, you can ask Google what’s causing the trouble.
The company announced a new open platform Wednesday called Measurement Lab, or M-Lab for short. As part of the initial launch, M-Lab includes three publicly accessible tools, including a tool called Glasnost that tests whether BitTorrent traffic is being blocked, throttled or otherwise impeded on your broadband connection.
It seemed to me the Bittorrents for the last few Superbowls were mildy popular, but that’s just my observation. I have no stats to back that up. Superbowl broadcast ratings are down. They’ve been down for years. That’s well known.
What isn’t known is how the NFL plans to bring it’s product into the 21st century.
The NFL’s bread and butter has always been the play-by-play broadcast of their games. Other football leagues focused on ticket sales and merchandising or on community spirit. The NFL made their money hopping from network to network to show their precious games and sold the Big Game to the highest bidder. Big Brother even had to step in and make the NFL play fair and give everybody a turn, if I remember correctly.
Has there been ANY sort of an announcement of the NFL’s plans to accommodate the post-television generation? The Official Superbowl Page has a countdown clock and tons of hype… but nothing about how to watch the actual game.
Politics wised up. After a terrible online showing during the election gave bootleg streams of CNN great ratings, we were buried in options for streaming live video of the Inauguration. Will this be the moment that Sports learns the hard way?
There’s a ton of money on the table for the advertiser in the browser window of the re-streaming service that will be hosting the bootleg stream. Will it be uStream.TV this time, again, or will everybody be watching a freed Sling Stream?
When we switched from Airwaves to Cable/Satellite, America got introduced to a lot more networks. Some came and went (Preview, CBN, TheBox), others became household names (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax).
As we switch from Cable/Satellite we’re having to get used to a lot of new names. Hulu, Joost, Boxee, Netflix, iTunes, VUDU, and now Epix.
Epix is destined for cable/satellite and will compete with HBO and Starz for your Premium Package dollars – but it’s got one foot in the old world and one foot in the new. It will begin streaming it’s channel via it’s website a full five months before their cable/satellite launch.
A consortium of MGM, Paramount Pictures, and Lions Gate, the channel will feature more than 15,000 movies from the three studios.
The new channel, which is intended to compete with HBO and Showtime, will feature such hits as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Iron Man, and other movies from the studios’ libraries. The channel is also expected to produce original programming and present live concert performances, as other premium channels do.
In early January 2007, 60 Minutes did a segment on Netflix where CEO Reed Hastings spoke of going from DVD rentals to subscription streaming. He also spoke of the AppleTV (nee.. iTV) and a need to get to the market before it becomes the iPod of video.
I can’t find video of the segment, but I can find a CBS News article covering Netflix where it makes mention of the future of the market. The print article doesn’t include any of Reed Hasting’s quotes about a Netflix set-top box or his vision of getting Netflix out of the DVD rental business and getting into the digital streaming business. The article lays down all the reasons Hastings gave for making the switch, without actually crediting him with saying it.
Once it becomes more practical to buy and rent movies within a few minutes on high-speed Internet connections, few consumers presumably will want to wait a day or two to receive a DVD in the mail. If that happens, Netflix could go the way of the horse and buggy.
Online movie delivery already is available through services like CinemaNow, MovieFlix, Movielink, Vongo and Amazon.com Inc.’s recently launched Unbox. Apple Inc. also is emerging as major player, with hundreds of movies and TV shows on sale at its iTunes store and a new device that promises to transport media from a computer to a TV screen.
But none of those online services have caught on like Netflix’s mail-delivery system, partly because movie and TV studios generally release their best material on DVDs first. The studios have had little incentive to change their ways because DVDs still generate about $16 billion of highly profitable sales.
Like already existing online delivery services, Netflix’s “Watch Now” option offers a lot of “B” movies such as “Kickboxer’s Tears.” But the mix also includes critically acclaimed selections like “Network,” “Amadeus,” “Chinatown” and “The Bridge On the River Kwai.”
The studios contributing to Netflix’s new service include NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Lion’s Gate and New Line Cinema.
“We are going into this with the knowledge that consumers want to watch (media) in various ways and we want to be there for them,” said Frances Manfred, a senior vice president for NBC Universal. “For now, though, we know television is the vastly preferred option.”
The result is an article that seems as if the ground was going to shift under Netflix and their business model will crumble.
How ironic that CBS (still clinging to their broadcast model and falling way behind the other networks in their online offerings) is having a financial hurt while Netflix is thriving.
Netflix’s bet on the coming trend in video delivery was spot on, and they are reaping the profits. According to Engadget:
The movie rental firm somehow managed to see net income rise to $22.7 million in the quarter, up from $15.7 million in Q4 2007. Revenue was also up by 19 percent, and subscriber growth was pegged at an amazing 26 percent. All told, the firm ended the quarter with 9.4 million subscribers, decimating its own forecast of ending Q4 with 9.15 million customers.
The company is reporting that many of its customers are replacing mailed movies with streamed ones, taxing the USPS less and their broadband connections more.
I’ve tried writing this post three times this morning. Its not going to happen. The post, I mean.
Two things are clear in the YouTube/Warner Music scuffle. First, neither side is 100% right. And second, users are very, very angry that their videos are being pulled down or muted when they contain background music owned by Warner Music.
Those users aren’t being quiet about it, either. And scores of them are uploading protest videos to say exactly what they think. All are angry at Warner Music. And most express disappointment at Google, too, for reportedly walking away from the deal that allowed Warner’s music to be used legally on the site. I’ve embedded the “best of” below. More are being uploaded in real time, and this has the feel of a situation that is just now starting to boil over.
Videos can be found on TechCrunch.
[Continued from How To… Part 1: Streaming]
Streaming isn’t perfect. If my wife is streaming Hart to Hart from Hulu, I’d better not be surfing YouTube on the laptop. If she was watching Fringe (which we download) I’d be fine.
Also, if the weather’s bad, the internet gets slow. That means lots of paused streams and filling buffers. Downloading your show in advance and watching it from your hard drive requires pre-planning, but your efforts will be richly rewarded.
Downloading allows for higher resolution, multi-channel surround, and the possibility of taking it with you on a gadget.
Like Streaming, there are both paid and free options. Also like Streaming, free comes in official and grey-market sources.
Six months ago, there was a small selection of places to buy TV shows that I might have cautiously recommended. Today there is only one: iTunes. It’s pricy, but reliable. That’s the only reason it exists at all. Most video stores have shut down (and the few that still exist are focused more on movies than on television).
Reliability is a big deal. Customers that were unlucky enough to buy video from a store that shut down found that their “purchases” weren’t purchases at all – merely licenses that got revoked when the company shut down the server that unlocked your video whenever the next verification was due. DRM (Corporate-speak for “Copy Protection”) may be dying for music sales, but it’s alive and well on television and movie sales. There isn’t a killer gadget or a killer store to strong-arm the networks into giving up on DRM.
Until that time, most internet downloaders are sticking to original content, or just pirating the good stuff.
Free Downloads: Original Content
Podcasts. Holy Cow, podcasts. This one deserves it’s own post.
Free Downloads: The Good Stuff
Arrrg! Mateys! We have a pirate wannabe! Well, I have a disclaimer for you: No TV network condones file trading. If you are trading a file of a TV network show then you are a pirate. And you know how the industry feels about pirates. If you want to risk it, here’s how:
File trading methods come and go. The flavor of the week is currently Bittorrent. Bittorrent works like a treasure map and magic compass. The .torrent file is the map, and your bittorrent client (software) is the magic compass that finds the thing you’re looking for (treasure). There is a .torrent file on the internet for every episode of every season of practically every show ever. Find the .torrent file, and find the show.
You can set it up to do it all automatically.
TV Torrents on a Mac is as simple as P.T.T.
1. Perian.org – This Quicktime plug-in will allow your Mac to play your downloads with the native Quicktime Player and Front Row media center software.
2. Download Transmission. This is your magic compass. Set it to launch on startup, listen for .torrents (maps) in your Download folder, and to drop files (treasure) into your Movies folder.
3. Download ted. This is your map finder. Set it to launch on startup and to drop .torrent files (maps) in your Download folder as they become available. Add some shows.
That’s it. You’re done. Tomorrow there will be shows in your Movies folder.
[NOTE: I will include a Windows version if/when I get my trusty Dell to boot again.]
Searching manually is great for Barbara Walter’s Specials, TV Movies, and new DVDs that’s you’re too impatient to wait for Netflix to deliver. Manual Searching is also a good skill to have in case the automated way skips an episode or two because you forgot to boot up the computer for two weeks or ted thinks a new season started when it hasn’t.
When you bittorrent, you need to know EXACTLY what episode you’re looking for so you know which .torrent file to use as your map. Start by visiting the encyclopedia of TV titles: epguides.com.
Epguides makes it easy to remember that the last episode of The Middleman I saw was the one where they had to go on a boat to keep cursed musical instrument from killing Titanic aficionados. I also found out that it was called “The Cursed Tuba Contingency” and (most importantly) it was Season 1, Episode 7.
On your Widescreen and In Your Pocket
Downloading holds many advantages over streaming, the biggest advantage being portability. You are no longer tied to a web browser. My wife got an iPhone for Christmas.
The primary reason for the purchase was Google Maps, with Mobile Safari a very close second; however, I know my wife. As soon as TV Junkie #2 catches a few episodes while waiting for the bus… I’ll be loading her iPhone with television. Luckily, I’m prepared.
[To be continued in How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 3: On your Widescreen and In Your Pocket]
A few days ago, after bending to tremendous end-user pressure, the folks over at Boxee asked what a Boxee Box should look like, if they should decide to make one. Then all hell broke loose.
Many people are under the impression that if Boxee makes their own hardware, it would signal a shift away from getting their software on 3rd Party hardware. In other words, you either follow the Netflix model or you follow the AppleTV model… there is no middle ground.
So that brings me to ask? Can Boxee “pull a Netflix” and commission it’s own box while also getting it’s SaaS on other maker’s hardware, or does it not have the name recognition to play both sides?
So, how did they do? Out of 26 nominated films, an incredible 23 films are already available in DVD quality on nomination day, ripped either from the screeners or the retail DVDs. This is the highest percentage since I started tracking.
Only three films are unavailable — Rachel Getting Married wasn’t leaked online in any form, while Changeling is only available as a low-quality telecine transfer and Australia as a terrible quality camcorder recording. (Update: A DVD screener of Australia was just leaked today.)
Surprisingly, it seems like this year’s Oscar movies took longer to leak online than in previous years. If I had to guess, it’s because far fewer camcorder copies were released for this year’s nominees. This could be because of the theaters cracking down on camcorder recordings, but I suspect it’s because fewer nominees were desirable targets this year for cams. (Aside from the obvious blockbusters, like Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda, and Tropic Thunder.) The chart below shows the median number of days from a movie’s US release date to its first leak online.
Tons of data, including graphs and spreadsheets are available.
Boxee, makers of fine open-source media center software, apparently couldn’t go anywhere at CES without someone asking them to build a set-top-box. Now they’re asking you if they should go through with the plan.
They’ve posted a survey on their blog to test the waters.
Lots of Network/Internet Partnerships. Lots of links.
C-Span will go it alone with thier Inauguration Hub and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will be providing a live feed, complete with closed captioning.
If you’re on the go, you can get live tweets via Twitter, or if you have an iPhone, then uStream has you covered.
Downloaders of The Secret Life of the American Teenager are in a panic. Two episodes into Season 2, no torrents are to be found.
If you have the bandwidth, ABC Family has both episodes online. Their new year re-design came a week late, but it has welcome changes, including the ability to link directly to a show.
Now we can all stop panicking and go back to bitching about Hulu pulling It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Customer trust is hard won, easily lost.
On January 9, we removed nearly 3 seasons of full episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” We did this at the request of the content owner. Despite Hulu’s opinion and position on such content removals (which we share liberally with all of our content partners), these things do happen and will continue to happen on the Hulu service with regards to some television series. As power users of Hulu have seen, we’ve added a large amount of content to the library each month, and every once in a while we are required to remove some content as well.
This note, however, is not about the fact that episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were taken down. Rather, this note is to communicate to our users that we screwed up royally with regards to _how_ we handled this specific content removal and to apologize for our lack of strong execution. We gave effectively no notice to our users that these ”Sunny” episodes would be coming off the service. We handled this in precisely the opposite way that we should have. We believe that our users deserve the decency of a reasonable warning before content is taken down from the Hulu service. Please accept our apologies.
Given the very reasonable user feedback that we have received on this topic (we read every twitter, email and post), we have just re-posted all of the episodes that we had previously removed. I’d like to point out to our users that the content owner in this case – FX Networks – was very quick to say yes to our request to give users reasonable advance notice here, despite the fact that it was the Hulu team that dropped the ball. We have re-posted all of the episodes in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down two weeks from today. The episodes will be taken down on January 25, 2009. Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that. We hope that the additional two weeks of availability will help to address some of the frustration that was felt over the past few days.
The team at Hulu is doing our best to make lemonade out of lemons on this one, but it’s not easy given how poorly we executed here. Please know that we will do our best to learn from this mistake such that the Hulu user experience benefits in other ways down the road.
Jason Kilar, CEO, Hulu
Last night when I told my wife it has been six months since we dropped cable, she couldn’t believe it. She was taken aback. The got weirded out about it again this morning as she was pulling up her daily episode of Hart to Hart.
Six months? Really? It doesn’t feel that long. I guess because it’s gotten so easy.
Like having a child, she is so happy with the result that she doesn’t even remember the labor pains. The only real difference in our TV viewing habit is the loss of the remote control (which I hope to remedy, soon).
Has it really gotten that easy, or are we just used to it?
This thought has been on my mind since New Year’s Eve. My family came to visit and my brother, who can’t send an e-mail and defers his web browsing to his fiancee, leapt toward the computer when I pulled up the Three Stooges page on Hulu. He spent the rest of the morning in Saturday Morning Cartoon Mode. He clicked until he found the episode he’d been looking for for years.
Back to the conversation with my wife.
Easy? That’s because everything is set up and bookmarked! I make this LOOK easy!
When she stopped laughing, she kissed me and went to make toast.
I kept wondering if it’s easy for us because it’s all bookmarked and we’ve found all our current shows, or if it’s really gotten that easy for everyone.
The networks have been doing an excellent job of pimping their websites, so I decided to start there.
I went to all the broadcast and cable network sites I could think of. I’ll be posting a write-up soon. (UPDATE: Link). Some (Like ABC and ABC News) were greatly improved, while others (The Discovery Channel) seem to not get the concept.
Then there’s the subject of the shows we DON’T stream.
I’ve come to the conclusion that in January 2009 streaming TV is easier than it used to be, but still not there yet, and bittorrent/RSS is still too difficult for the masses.
More and more people are cutting the cable to go all-internet, but we still don’t have a killer set top box. You can’t expect people to choose between watching on a computer and hooking a computer up to a TV.
AppleTV needs streaming, The Roku box needs downloads, TiVo needs to cut the cable, and a game console is a poor substitute for a dedicated internet television device.
Whoever gets the streaming/download balance correct can rule the Widescreen.
I’m looking at you, Boxee.
This year promises to be interesting.
Times are tough. We’re all looking for ways to cut spending. After looking at my cable bill, I decided (with zero research and zero preparation) to see if my wife and I could live without television for 52 weeks, relying solely on the internet.
Two TV Junkies under one roof can consume a remarkable amount of programming content. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there is no silver bullet one-size-fits-all solution to replacing television with the internet. We watch a mixture of streamed shows and downloads.
After a bit of a learning curve we’re up to speed and have not missed a single show. Election night was a bit tense, but I didn’t miss a beat. Plus, we’ve saved $250 in five months. Best of all, my setup has passed The Wife Test (your milage may vary).
Streaming gets me in that instant-gratification way that video-on-demand should. It’s perfect for when I sit down and I don’t know what I’m in the mood to watch. In the old days I would have flipped channels or consulted The Guide to see what was on. Now I browse for what’s available and the selection just keeps getting bigger.
There’s a ton of services out there that want you to download and install their software. DON’T DO IT!! If it’s not crawling with spyware, it’s big and bloated and unnecessary. All you need is a Mac or PC built in the last half-decade and a web browser.
Five months ago I felt that I needed to make a page of links for each show I wanted to watch; because I never knew what there was to find, where to find it, or how long it would be there after I found it. (It’s still mostly true, but it’s gotten a lot better.)
In the last few months, the networks have wised up quite a bit and most of them are offering at least some streaming (and it’s usually their biggest shows). All the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The CW, and PBS) are doing it, and several of the Cable Networks are dipping their toes in as well. USA Network, HGTV, A&E, CNN, The Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, Lifetime, ABC Family, MTV, and even TBS and The Weather Channel.
UPDATE: (March 2009) A much longer List of Links is on the right column of every page. —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –> —> –>
Hulu is my first stop when looking for a show. Hulu even lists things they DON’T show, but only if they’re available through official distribution channels. They don’t link to JustinTV, TVLinks.cc, SurftheChannel, ChannelChooser, TV-Video.Net, WatchTVSitcoms, or other grey-market sites.
Sometimes you don’t feel like searching for things. Sometimes you just want to “turn it on and let it go”. For those times, I go to Joost. Just last night, I was watching a collection of Christmas Episodes from random TV Shows.
Netflix. Technically it’s a paid stream but because my bill didn’t change it feels free. All-you-can-watch streaming is part of most Netflix plans (including mine) and I use it.
I don’t have a Windows PC or an Intel Mac so I can’t see it in my browser (like most people); however, there are an increasing number of gadgets that allow you to watch Netflix streaming, most of them more likely to be attached to your TV than your computer is. If you have a new Samsung BluRay Player, a TiVo HD, The Netflix Player by Roku, or an XBox 360 you can get Netflix Streaming on your TV. Me? I’m buying a Mac mini.
Fancast is a some-free, some-paid browser-based streaming site. It had a very interesting beta period this summer, but now that the networks are waking up, it seems a bit redundant. It’s a great bookmark for those hard-to-find episodes.
If you live in Wisconsin, and have RoadRunner / Time Warner, and have a PC running XP or Vista then you are in the test market for HBO on Broadband.
Streaming isn’t perfect. If my wife is streaming Hart to Hart from Hulu, I’d better not be surfing YouTube on the laptop. If she was watching Fringe (which we download) I’d be fine.
Also, if the weather’s bad, the internet gets slow. That means lots of paused streams and filling buffers. (Continued in How To Drop Cable and Satellite and Still Watch Everything, Part 2: Downloads.)
Two weeks ago, I wrote that BluRay was doomed to take LaserDisc’s place as a movie-and-gadget-geek-only format.
The article was based on the assumption that the studios would cling to DVD sales as hard as they clung to VHS (which they are finally letting die – a decade after DVD’s launch).
However… what if they decided to knife DVD, leaving BluRay as your only choice? Would they do it?
It’s possible. The home video market is very different than it was in the mid-1990s.
DVD was the result of a compromise between a group of consumer electronics makers with a collection of 5″ laser disc technology patents collectively called the “Digital Video Disc” format and a competing group of consumer electronics makers with a collection of 5″ laser disc technology patents collectively called the “Multi-Media Compact Disc” format.
In an effort to avoid battling a format war in the market, they all agreed to use roughly half of each group’s patents and bury the other half. After months of negotiations both sides won some battles, lost some battles, and together they finalized the unified format. They named it “Digital Versatile Disc”.
Like MMCD, and unlike Digital Video Disc, it could be used both in a stand-alone player as a movie-only disc and in a computer as a data disc. Unfortunately, because the initials were the same as one of the old formats, the name confused everyone and flamewars erupted on usenet forums and in Compuserve chat rooms.
To end the bickering the name was changed again; this time to “DVD” (pronounced “DeeVeeDee”), which officially stands for nothing.
The consumer electronics makers (united under a single format) were behind DVD, but the content providers weren’t so assured.
There was no way to know if customers were going to buy players, or this format was going to be another VCD or CD-i. The DVD disc pressing plants were just built/retooled (at a great cost) and no disc had broken the half-million mark, yet. Investment was a great risk, and only two studios had titles available at launch.
Circuit City tried to splinter the format with it’s DiVX pay-per-view discs. Launching it’s scheme at the same time as DVD’s national rollout, they marketed it as a “feature of DVD” and told customers that “all the new models will have it”. Although CC tried their hardest, the format got the fate it deserved (It died and had a codec named after it.*) but not before creating customer confusion and stirring up technophobia.
The VHS Cash Cow vs LaserDisc II
While DVD was fighting the format war it hoped to avoid, cheap VHS tapes sold everywhere from gas stations to Wal-Mart and $100 priced-to-rent tapes sold like hotcakes to Blockbuster Video stores across the country.
The fact that a VHS tape cost more to produce and cost more to ship than a DVD was negated by the huge difference in the volume of sales.
Switching to DVD from VHS had other costs, too. Everything has to be re-mastered. Everybody expects extras. DVD Menu designers aren’t free. Music rights must be re-negotiated. SAG and the DGA expect to be paid, but the format isn’t mentioned in anybody’s contracts – so we need everyone to sign off, etc. etc.
…just more and more reasons to keep milking VHS.
New Format on the Block: Then vs Now
In 1998, the only way to get a movie on your TV at 480i with multi-channel sound was to have it encoded onto a plastic disc.
DVD, at 5″, was easer to handle than the 12″ Laserdiscs and on most movies you didn’t have to flip the disc.
Both plastic discs required mail-order or a trip to the store before you could start watching a movie. You gave the same effort for each and every movie, whether it was an old favorite or a just-watch-once guilty pleasure.
In 2008, to get a get a movie on your TV at 720p or 1080i/p with multi-channel sound, you can have it on a plastic disc or on your hard drive.
You can download it, stream it, mail-order it, or buy/rent it at the store.
Your opinion of each particular movie will greatly effect:
a) how much effort you’re willing to put into getting it
b) how long you’re willing to wait to begin watching
b) how much you care about technical specs
c) how many dollars you’re willing to spend on buying or renting it.
d) whether its a purchase or a rental.
Which format you watch your movie on will be decided be on a case-by-case basis.
It’s no longer one physical format vs another physical format in a winner-take-all battle. It’s a physical format and two internet-based delivery methods splitting the market into three pieces.
While internet-based delivery will be divided between downloads and streaming, there isn’t enough room in the market for two mainstream physical formats. Unless the industry collectively gets together and kills DVD, familiarity, ubiquity, and the “good enough” resolution from upscaling DVD Players will keep DVD the last word in Physical Formats for Movies just like familiarity, ubiquity, and the “good enough” sound resolution from oversampling CD Players kept DVD-Audio and SACD from unseating the Compact Disc as the mainstream’s choice in Physical Formats for Music.
Physical formats will never go away, but I don’t think BluRay has enough momentum to be The Big Kahuna.
2009: Paranoid Studios, DRM, and a Tanked Economy
So, the reasons to keep a legacy format around are obvious, but are there reasons to kill one? Yes, but they aren’t very obvious to the casual observer.
1. BluRay, as a collection of 5″ laser disc technology patents, is owned by fewer companies than DVD. Yes all the major studios have titles in both formats, but fewer consumer electronics makers hold patents in the collection of 5″ laser disc technology patents that make up the format, so each maker gets a bigger piece of the pie.
2. BluRay discs have a higher profit margin, so it’s a bigger pie.
3. DVD disc sales cannibalize BluRay disc sales.
4. DRM, which is fancy corporate-speak for Copy Protection. BluRay has more of it than DVD, and BluRay players get updates… allowing for additional control. Studios like control.
5. Studios can negotiate different terms for “HD” distribution as they have with “SD”, therefore have an opprotunity to squeeze a lot of smaller filmmakers for their pennies.
6. The economy is in the toilet. It is more cost effective to have a streamlined catalog.
7. Uh… Blue is pretty (and other “because we feel like it” reasons).
That’s all I can think of. I’m out.
Will they do it?
There are reasons to keep DVD around until it dies of natural causes (like VHS) and there are reasons to knife it early (like propping up BluRay). Which will they do?
Only time will tell.
*The fact that the codec was originally made out of a hacked version of VC-1 in an abandon-ware a/v container and used mainly to steal DVD content is mildly amusing.
AppleTV could stand some improvement.
The AppleTV is deceptively powerful, and Apple could make it much more useful without having to resort to adding a TV Tuner, DVR Features. or a BluRay drive. In fact, they can do it with a Take 3 Software Update.
Free? How Can It Be Free?
Apple accounts for the AppleTV using the same subscription accounting method that they use for the iPhone.
This allows Apple to roll out major revisions free of charge without going afoul of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for two whole years after purchase*.
The first AppleTVs rolled out at the end of the first week of March 2007, putting MacWorld 2009 well within the 2-year window.
One More Thing
An update to this little hobby of Steve’s isn’t big enough news to get stage time. I’m sure it will be reported on the rumor sites along with bumps to the Mac Pro and the XServe, while the keynote will be spent talking about iPhone and App Store sales, iLife/iWork ’09, or a new Mac mini with a mini-DisplayPort and an extra USB 2.0 in place of DVI and firewire.
We’re due for another bi-annual jaw-dropper “one more thing”, but unless it’s a teleporter or a time machine, it’s hard to imagine that the rumor mill doesn’t know already.
How many rabbits can one man pull out of a hat in one career, anyway? If it’s a tablet, a cube, a game console, a VR helmet, a video phone, a WiMAX/whitespace VoIP phone, a car, or an airplane the rumor mill already has processed the patents and mocked up advertisements.
I’m keeping my expectations low: AppleTV 3.0 (with one of these two features) and a new Mac mini.
* The Sarbanes-Oxley Act does not say “two-years” specifically, it just works out to two years in Apple’s case because of the accounting method. SBA does not apply to minor revisions and/or bug-fixes nor to companies based outside of the USA (although some countries do have equivalent laws in place).
During the long stretch between Last Hardware Updates Of The Year and MacWorld there is little news coming out of Apple, Inc.. This is the time of year when Apple Talk turns from news and rumors to OpEd pieces.
In the last month, I’ve read more than a few articles telling the world what Apple needs to do to “fix” the AppleTV and send sales through the roof. Most of these articles recommend adding a DVR or an optical drive or both.
I hope not. AppleTV is a box for internet-delivered content.
Americans need to re-think Video Delivery
Americans think that you “get TV” from broadcast/cable/satellite and “get movies” come from shiny discs and Premium Channels. Therefore, anything that wants to rule the big screen will have to handle the content coming to it via these means.
…but what if TV and Movies came via internet? What if every single piece of programming that the cable company wants you to pay them to send to you could be sent via the internet connection you already have?
What if you could pull up a TV show as easily as a web page? What if you could subscribe to a TV show as easily as subscribing to a mailing list or an RSS feed?
Stop wondering “what if?”, because it’s all possible today.
(Now that you know this, how long before YOU cut the cable?)
AppleTV isn’t perfect
AppleTV needs to do better, not do more. The machine needs to be a better internet-delivered entertainment device. With this in mind, it’s easy to see where Apple TV could improve.
In addition to a processor/memory/storage bump, the AppleTV Take 3 should boast one of the two following features:
App Store / Plug-Ins
Yes, I know you can use plug-ins now. I also know they’ve gone from hacking and jailbraking-level mods to plug-and-play simplicity, but in the end… they’re still hacks.
Also, an App store would allow Netflix and Apple to combine forces without an official partnership.
It is widely known that Apple makes the bulk of it’s money on hardware sales and all other endeavors (including the iTunes store) work with the slimmest of profit margins. Apple is in the hardware business, first and foremost. Netflix is not.
Netflix doesn’t make ANY hardware, instead they are doing their damnedest to get their SaaS on everything from TiVo to XBox360 to Macs and PCs to your cable box. It is certain that they would make an App Store app.
Plug-ins boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.
– or –
Apple needs to show the world that there is more free content than just Podcasts and YouTube Rants available online.
Streaming new/current TV Shows from Hulu beats Netflix’s tiny and ancient TV offering, plus Hulu is as free as broadcast, but with fewer commercials.
With MGM adding full-length movies to AppleTV via YouTube, adding Hulu to AppleTV at the factory will make it a REAL linear-delivery killer.
Having Hulu on the main menu next to YouTube would boost the value of Apple’s hardware offering with minimal effort and minimal OS bloat.
[Update: As someone pointed out to me, The Take 3 Software (if released before February) would be free to all AppleTV owners, thanks to the iPhone-like accounting method Apple uses.]
What AppleTV DOESN’T need is DVR features.
DVRs are for wrangling [linear-delivered video] sent on [a proprietary network].
AppleTV is for sorting [non-linear delivered video] sent on [the open internet].
Like a Gas Dryer vs an Electric Dryer, they’re incompatible with (and redundant to) each other. They do the “same” thing, but in two different ways; and no one needs both.
Yet, some people still don’t get it.
Thanks to non-linear deliverable video available on the open internet, I no longer pay a cable or satellite bill and I’m not missing any of my favorite shows.
In it’s current state, AppleTV can help wean you off of cable and satellite… but only if you combine it with Bittorrent, TVrss.net, and VisualHub. Hulu-on-AppleTV makes those other tools unnecessary, makes television-over-internet as simple as a DVR, and makes it that much easier to “cut the cable”.
Without cable, you don’t NEED a machine to wrangle it.
AppleTV DOESN’T NEED a DVD or BluRay Drive
Optical discs can compliment internet delivery, but I feel a dedicated box (like a DVD or BluRay Player) is a better solution for anything with moving parts.
I bought my first two DVD Players in 1998. A Creative Labs DxR2 for the computer and a Panasonic A110u for the television. Since then, I’ve gone through 5 DVD drives and 4 stand-alone players.
Luckily, each replacement was cheaper, faster, and had more features that the one it was replacing; although each one also got lighter and more fragile feeling, too.
Like component AV equipment, the optical disc player and the internet-delivered content player should remain as separate as the cassette player and the CD Player.
But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.
BluRay is not going to fail, it just isn’t going to go mainstream. It will be the LaserDisc to DVD’s VHS. Better sound, better picture, more options… and only used by gadget geeks and home theatre nerds.
BluRay movie sales will remain flat and DVD sales will continue to dwindle as people only buy Collector’s Editions of their favorites and go to downloads for everything else. BluRay discs will compete by adding more and more movie-geek and gadget-geek features that the average movie watcher couldn’t care less about.
Optical Discs aren’t going to go away, they’re just going to return to their 1997 status of Serious Movie Fans Only.
Netflix already realizes this. They are preparing for a post physical-media world. They are getting their customers to think of their service not as “DVD Rental” but as “Movie Access”. For X dollars per month, you have access to our library of movies on DVD, BluRay, your computer, your TiVo, your Roku Player, your Samsung Player, etc. Movies and vintage TV, non-linear delivery, all you can eat for a flat monthly rate. It’s like a premium cable TV channel, but you choose what to watch and how you watch it.
Apple is hoping that it’s iTunes movies will replace running to Best Buy for those “quick nothing” movies that you buy because it’s cheaper than GOING to a movie. Those “impulse buy” DVDs that you watch once and forget you own. At $9.99 it’s cheaper than everything but the giant bins of movies near the Wal-Mart check out stand, and has a much better selection of titles, or you can rent it for half the price.
Sure, a lot of the DVDs I own are because it was only a few dollars more than renting, but do I really need Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, Betsy’s Wedding, or Advice from a Caterpillar taking up shelf space? I’ve shipped them across the country three times, and paid to store them in two states. They have no resale value. I doubt I’ll ever watch them again, but I can’t just toss them in the garbage, so there they sit… with their 600 friends.
On the other hand, I have no problem deleting episodes of Veronica Mars, Back to You, or Supernatural (that I paid for) just to make room. I doubt I’ll feel the sting of a deleted rental.
I know I’m just one person, but I was ahead of the crowd on VCRs, the internet, DVD, 16:9 screens, 5.1 sound, TiVo, MP3 Players, iPods, and switching to Macs. I just don’t hear the siren song of BluRay like I did everything else.
My first real test of the NO TV For A Year pledge came this November 4.
After casting my vote, I returned home and pulled up Google News. The headlines were already coming fast and furious. Long lines, hate crimes, gun sales, and I-thought-I’d-never-see-the-day stories were sprinkled with poll closing times, battle state reminders, and the latest smears.
Then I found a live stream of CNN. Well… CNN International, but they were just simulcasting the US CNN feed so it was all the same. Well… all the same when it worked. It went down twice between noon and 2pm, each time going away for fifteen minutes, but it was much worse when I accidently closed the tab.
For over half an hour I kept refreshing the page, trying to connect. All it would give me was a still frame, until finally the video returned.
With the election such a nail-biter, I didn’t trust it to get me through the day on it’s own. I had two web browsers open, each with several tabs. Google, NPR, The New York Times, CBS, CNN, and gave “live” polling results in one browser, and Google News helped me spawn dozens of tabs in the other.
I start taking snapshots. The first polls close in 20 minutes. These are to show how it began.
NPR reports that Illinois and Kentucky have reported some results, but give no clue what they might be. The New York Times paints Illinois and Vermont blue and Kentucky red, but it’s for the senate races.
CBS calls Kentucky for McCain and Vermont for Obama
at 4:10pm NPR follows suit, with Illinois still counting. At 4:17 NPR says Virginia is counting.
I step away from the computer. It doesn’t last.
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: McCain Leads 8 to 3
New York Times: Tie @ 0 to 0
CBS: McCain Leads 13 to 3
CNN: McCain Leads 8 to 3
Whoa. Is CBS padding McCain’s numbers or jumping the gun? Thirteen!? Everyone else is saying three!
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: McCain Leads 8 to 3
New York Times: McCain Leads 8 to 3
CBS: McCain Leads 21 to 3
CNN: McCain Leads 16 to 3
CBS still giving McCain the biggest number.
Google: McCain Leads 8 to 3
NPR: Map won’t load. Try again and again and again.
New York Times: McCain Leads 8 to 3
CBS: Obama Leads 81 to 39
CNN: Obama Leads 77 to 34
Google: Obama Leads 82 to 34
NPR: Obama Leads 103 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 10 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 81 to 34
Google: Obama Leads 82 to 34
NPR: Obama Leads 103 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 22 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 81 to 34
Google: Map won’t load. Try again and again and again.
NPR: Obama Leads 120 to 34
New York Times: Obama Leads 26 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 102 to 54
CNN: Obama Leads 102 to 43
Google: Map still won’t load. Try again and again and again.
NPR: Obama Leads 175 to 64
New York Times: Obama Leads 62 to 8
CBS: Obama Leads 174 to 100
CNN: Obama Leads 174 to 49
Google: Obama Leads 202 to 80
NPR: Obama Leads 207 to 129
New York Times: Obama Leads 155 to 17
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 135
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 95
Google: Obama Leads 207 to 114
NPR: Obama Leads 207 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 192 to 87
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 141
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 135
Google: Obama Leads 220 to 120
NPR: Obama Leads 220 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 207 to 127
CBS: Obama Leads 206 to 141
CNN: Obama Leads 207 to 135
At 8:00 CNN Projected Sen. Obama the winner.
Google: Obama Leads 324 to 124
NPR: Obama Leads 220 to 135
New York Times: Obama Leads 218 to 127
CBS: Obama Leads 283 to 145
CNN: Obama Leads 297 to 139
I watch McCain’s speech, and it is the most beautiful concession speech I’ve ever heard. I watch Obama’s and can’t help but become overwhelmed with emotion. Then I lose the CNN feed for good.
All-in-all, the internet-delivered news didn’t do too bad. If CNN had it’s own feed, they would have made a ton of money on advertising but alas they still think cable is their bread-and-butter.
Let’s hope the new MGM/YouTube deal will kick-start some thinking.
When I gave up TV in July, it was pretty easy. The weather was nice and re-runs were the only thing on. Now, on Election Day, I finally feel the loss. I no longer have endless channels of mindless blabbering giving me up-to-the-millisecond election coverage. If I want to get information, I have to look for it.
There are a number of places to get “live” polling results, including NPR, The New York Times, CBS, CNN, and (my favorite) Google. I’m sure I’ll be checking all of them over and over again, weighing them against one another.
Have you “cut the cable” and replaced your linear feed with the non-linear internet for your filmed entertainment needs?
I want to hear about it. Every painful misstep.
e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
TV Shows and Transmission just started getting the hang of things when my Mac started acting funny.
It’s been acting a little quirky for about nine months, but in September – it just wouldn’t boot.
I’d been meaning to do a “clean slate” install but the Mac only acted quirky now and then – so I got lazy.
When I used Windows, a clean slate install (called a “Nuke and Pave”) was an annual (and sometimes bi-annual) event. In the four years I’ve used Macs, I haven’t done a clean install of OS X since I bought a used G3 PowerMac and a copy of 10.3 Panther. I’ve installed and deleted dozens upon dozens of applications, never once using an uninstaller like IceClean or AppCleaner. When Tiger came out, I bought this G5 and used Migration Assistant to move in. When Leopard came out, I just upgraded.
The hard drive is barely a year old, and it’s S.M.A.R.T. status said it was OK, so when it started acting up I was convinced it was a software error.
I didn’t want to install the OS and then just have Time Machine put it back how it was, and I wasn’t sure if I could even access the files otherwise, so I started burning DVDs of all my “really important” data. After two days of burning DVDs, the hard drive died before I could finish.
I didn’t panic, because I had two backups. A quick trip to Seagate’s web site and a warranty replacement for the dead drive is on it’s way – or so I think. Two days later I realize I forgot to check a box and now have to start the order over, then it takes an extra three days to arrive because UPS is closed on the weekends.
When it finally arrived, it slips effortlessly into the Mac and Leopard is installed clean. As I begin manually copying data off of the Time Machine hard drive – it dies, too.
I don’t panic, because I burned DVDs.
It was when the first DVD read error came that I began to panic.
Through all of this, I have only The Netflix Player and my Netflix’d DVDs to entertain me.
As the long summer season draws to an end, I keep going further and further back.
I watched a Karate Kid Double Feature on Netflix Streaming, a couple of episodes of One Day at a Time on Hulu, and even peeped the Pilot to Alice over @ SurfTheChannel.
On the download front, I uninstalled Miro and gave TV Shows a whirl. TV Shows does one thing: It downloads torrents from TVrss.net. The website says a new version will be out “in a month”, but apparently it’s said that for a year now.
The torrents get dropped into my “Download” folder, where Transmission picks them up and downloads the shows into my Movies folder.
It served up The Daily Show, Mythbusters, The Middleman, and Burn Notice, but The Secret Life of the American Teenager was strangely absent.
I think I’m ready for the fall season to begin.
[Note: Each part of this series was to have an increasingly longer name – but then again, this was only supposed to be a three-part series. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. The increasingly-longer-name joke isn’t funny and I’m not doing it anymore.]
In Replacing Television with The Internet, Part 2 1/2: The Sound Redux, I said that my new amp would be here by the end of the week. It finally arrived three weeks later.
I chose the STR-DG920 because it has 4 HDMI inputs, a Faroudja video processor, and is TrueHD/dts-HD compliant.
The TrueHD/dts-HD thing is future-proofing. I only have 5.1 speakers and don’t own a BluRay player, so I won’t be listening to 7.1 sound any time soon.
The video processor allows me to hook a Nintendo Wii up to my system without buying a costly component-and-optical-audio-to-HDMI bridge, (and Faroudja is a name in video processing that I trust)
…and the 4 HDMI inputs will eliminate the need for an HDMI switch. At least that was the plan.
I don’t know if this is a Sony-specific problem, a problem with my model, or if it has something to do with how HDMI works, but I couldn’t connect my Mac to the Video 1 HDMI input and the Video 1 optical audio port at the same time. The Optical port only works if the HDMI port isn’t in use.
That isn’t to say that I HAVE to use the HDMI audio feed.
I can combine the HDMI video feed with any of the other audio inputs on the back of the machine EXCEPT the digital optical port. It seems that the digital optical port can only be combined with an analog video port.
If I want the AV Receiver to control the digital video feed from the Mac, I need to use the receiver’s analog audio ports and the analog stereo speaker plug on the Mac. All my 5.1 content pumped into my 7.1 amp would be downmixed to 2.0. No thanks.
(Not to mention that for some reason my Mac’s video goes from being 1920×1200 to (something)x720 when piped through the DG920. What’s causing THAT?!?)
I end up unplugging the video feed from the receiver, re-ordering the same video switch I just returned, and using the digital optical port sans video. So for the Mac, the DG920 was a poor decision.
[UPDATE: What was causing the downscaling was a lack of HDCP certification coming from the Mac. All new Macs have miniDisplayPort ports, but (like remotes) mine does not. It’s too old. By bypassing the amp, I bypass the “checkpoint” and get full 1920 x 1200 from the Mac to my screen. My next Mac will be able to be plugged directly into the DG920 with no downscaling. I don’t know if it will still refuse to let me use the HDMI digital video feed and the digital optical audio feed at the same time or if being HDCP compliant on the video end will solve it.]
Luckily, the other things I connected to it went more smoothly.
I picked up a Sony DVP-NS601HP DVD Player at Costco for $60 and hooked it up to the DG920 via HDMI. I don’t know which of the two units is doing the scaling, but the picture looks incredible. I had no idea a DVD could look this good! Much better than the software scaling inside the Mac.
It also improved the picture quality of the Roku Netflix Player (which I had connected directly to the monitor for the week before the receiver arrived).
As for setup, I’m going to have to calibrate the speakers the old fashioned way – with test tones and a sound meter – because the auto-calibration only works with 7 speakers and a subwoofer attached even though there is a method of telling the amp how many speakers you have attached.
Like all Sony products, the remote control is awful. The controls on the unit itself aren’t much better. It was designed by designers who believe that “design” is all about looks.
Gone are the simple buttons for each input (press “DVD” for the DVD Player, press “Video 1” for the TiVo, etc.). To change inputs you have to spin a knob and cycle through all the inputs, including those not in use. And the knob is right next to the volume knob so it’s real easy to bump when adjusting the sound level. If the machines didn’t put out such wonderful, deep, rich, clear sound at an affordable price I wouldn’t keep buying them.
Hell, I’d pay more for a better interface if someone would make one. Until then I have to shop by spec sheet.
As long as I’m wishing for stuff, If Apple would put out a Mac Mini with BluRay and HDCP-compliant output, clams would envy my happiness level.
[UPDATE: Whoa, we’re halfway there. Whoa-oh! Livin’ on a prayer!]
(And may Apple NEVER build in DVR capabilities! Death to Linear Television Delivery!)
This week was more of the same. The Netflix box served up Peggy Sue Got Married and more of Miami Vice Season 1.
We streamed an episode of The Simpsons and Miro gave us our USA Network shows (Burn Notice, In Plain Sight), ABC Family shows (The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Middleman) and The Daily Show. We also watched the first four episodes of The O.C.: Season 1 on DVD.
I’m still using Miro/Front Row the same way I was last week. When I’m mid-production I don’t have time to kill researching if the fixes I want are possible and/or how to do it. I just have to wait until wrap. Grrr.
Problem with Front Row: Grouping. I am happy that Front Row allows you to navigate to your “Movies” folder. I understand that it didn’t always have that capability. Why does Front Row insist on grouping by kind, rather than by name? This results in the folders being put at the bottom and it reads as a list of titles that go from A to Z twice. Grrr.
One solution would be to get Miro to put titles directly in the “Movies” folder rather than into a sub-folder named after its channel, but if I knew how to do that, I’d get Miro to stop putting dashes in all the spaces. As it is, I have to see The-Daily-Show, The-Secret-Life-of-the-American-Teenager, Burn-Notice, and In-Plain-Sight. Grrr.
And I really need a remote control. I would dump the PowerMac for a Mac Mini for the remote alone if it had the video power and hard drive speed/capacity this Twin G5 has.
I read Wm. Humphrey’s column this week… and he mentions: The O.C.! OK, I have to watch whatever he recommends in this column… which turns out to be “Skins“, a BBC show. Add that to the list!
Speaking of the list, I’ll update it after wrap at the end of the month. Thanks for asking. Next time post to the comments. That’s why they’re there.
Until next week: Grumble…. grumble… GET OFF MY LAWN!!!
The summer doldrums continue. The slowdown has allowed me to learn how to get TV programming via internet with minimal impact to my viewing habits, and more importantly, my wife’s viewing habits.
I think I know how I’m going to handle the new season.
I think I’ll be streaming sitcoms (the bulk of what I watch) and downloading the one-hour dramas. The quality difference is worth the extra effort and patience, especially if there are a lot of dark and/or action sequences.
I do have to keep my downloads to a minimum. Even now, during rerun season, I have a long queue of torrents that haven’t even started downloading. We got The Secret Life of the American Teenager two days late. Oops. I can’t imagine what it would be like when regular programming returns if I tried to download every show on my list every week.
For what downloads I’ll continue, I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep using Miro or not. It has a few quirks that drive me batty. Besides, I can get similar functionality out of xTorrent or Bitrocket without all the bloat of a built in player that I don’t use and a file manager that I don’t need.
Similar, but not the same. If I can iron out the wrinkles in Miro, it could be the heart of the TiVo replacement I’m looking for – driving Front Row, which will be the “face” of the system.
As for streaming, I may have to just keep using Hulu by default. I heard about Plex this week. Unfortunately, like Joost and Boxee, it’s an Intel-only playground. Apparently, there aren’t any Platform Agnostic coders out there. What happened to Universal Binaries? My machine is barely three years old!
Only with Hulu can a PPC user get any love.
This week we watched new episodes of Secret Life, In Plain Sight, Burn Notice, and The Daily Show, and watched “reruns” of The Middleman, and Miami Vice Season 1. We watched Beaches and Across the Universe together, and I watched Superman: Doomsday alone.
Still haven’t caught up with The Riches, The Two Coreys, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Mythbusters, or Dirty Jobs, but I did listen to five more episodes of Smodcast. I’m now up to episode #30.
I’m beginning to get nervous that I’m not going to be ready in time for Premiere Week…. whenever that is! I may need to buy TV Guide for the first time in 15 years.
Adjusting to a new work schedule and a new sleep schedule, this was a more-boring-than-usual rerun-season TV week.
However, I was never more thankful for my terribly named What I’m Watching and How I’m Watching It list than I was this week.
Stuck alone in a production office, my head bleary from photocopying stuff all day, I needed to kill a few hours until I get the call from set that we’ve wrapped for the day. I had already read everything in the office. Every poster, pamphlet, form, label, receipt, and both phone books. I was finished reading for the day.
Then I saw it. Someone left a production laptop under a table! Yes, I could have gone anywhere online; but why browse when you’ve already got direct links to shows you like?
The list is still a bit lean, but I wouldn’t have thought to watch an early episode of South Park otherwise. When the Production Manager came in and caught me watching South Park, instead of getting upset that I was using a production machine without clearance, he burst out “I love that episode!” and spent the next half hour spouting quotes from the show.
Much cooler than my last PM.
At home, Miro continued to feed my Daily Show and Secret Life of the American Teenager habits and I finally finished Season 1 of The Two Coreys. It also spit out the 1971 “hit” Cold Turkey, Harold and Humar Escape from Guantanimo Bay, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and a quirky new show called The Middleman.
Then the Netflix Player came in the mail. The first thing I watched was Bill Envall’s Here’s Your Sign, followed by Jeff Dunham’s Spark of Insanity. Then on a whim, my wife and I watched half of Miami Vice Season 1. Neither of us watched it when it was on the air, so it’s a “brand new” old show for us.
This week, I finally discovered the usefulness of Miro.
I fully intended to review Joost, Miro, and Hulu’s RSS-based “subscriptions”, but I never got around to subscribing to anything on Hulu and Joost requires an Intel-based Mac, which mine is not.
Miro has taken hard drive space through two name changes and countless updates, but I never did more than fire it up once every couple of months… usually right after I ran AppUpdate.
I liked the concept, but I found the content lacking. I can get Ask A Ninja and StrongBad E-Mails through iTunes and I don’t care for the skimpy Discovery Channel podcasts in the Sample Channels. There is 2 minutes of content and 2 minutes of ads per “show”. That’s a terrible ratio.
But this week was different. This week I discovered tvRSS. (Link in the blogroll).
C|net has a great step-by-step tutorial on how to use tvRSS to make Miro useful. I discovered it about two hours after I finally figured it out for myself.
<Mr. Miyagi Mode ON>
Google first. Always Google first.
<Mr. Miyagi Mode OFF>
I added random things from my terribly named “What I’m Watching and How I’m Watching It” list, went to bed, and forgot about it.
The next evening when I sat down, there were two episodes of The Daily Show in Front Row. Shades of TiVo. It slipped my mind that I had told Miro to put the data files in my Movies folder. Scanning the rest of the list, I also found episode 4 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.
I added a few more random things to Miro and forgot all about Hulu.
Maybe next week while I check out Crafty TV I’ll browse Hulu.
We finished House M.D. Season 1. It was a great wrap-up and lots of juicy backstory came out along the way.
The Two Coreys and The Sarah Connor Chronicles sat unwatched, as did The Riches. I caught an episode of Mythbusters, and watched part of an episode of Dirty Jobs.
So far, replacing television with the internet has not cured the summer doldrums.
With No MTV, IMF, VH-1, or MTV2 to turn to, I hit YouTube.
Something Happy: Lemon Demon “Word Disassociation”
Something Melancholy: Chris Blake “Someone Else”
Something Uplifting: Sick Puppies – It’s All The Same
Something Sentimental: Journey “Faithfully” (Embedding is Disabled for this title.)
And I finally took a listen to Summer of Love 2008 from WHA!? Music.
01 Step Together // Phil RetroSpector (Happy Mondays VS the Beatles)
02 Pinball Wizard in the Drivers Seat // Apollo Zero (Dogtooth VS Who VS Cook’s County)
03 Black Acieed // dj lobsterdust (Ram Jam VS D-Mob)
04 What’s That Sound? // World Famous Audio Hacker (Buffalo Springfield VS 808 State VS Deee-Lite VS Prince VS Duran Duran)
05 Here Comes The Sunscreem // Bobby Martini (Sunscreem VS the Beatles)
06 Land Of Oz (Summer of Love Mix) // Flying White Dots (Manuel Gottsching VS Latino VS Grace Jones VS Pink Floyd VS The Orb VS Opus 3 VS Bjork VS Masters At Work VS The KLF)
07 diamond pressure // Simon Iddol (Richard Wahnfreid feat. Klaus Shultze, Manuel Gottsching, Mike Shrieve and Karl Wahnfried VS Little Louie Vega with Jay ‘Sinister’ Sealee and Julie McKnight)
Grab your free legal copy @ WhaStudios.com. It will help get through August.
As someone young enough to think that “Duhhh” is a term from the 90s, one working producer thinks it’s crazy that the networks haven’t figured it out yet.
Why would anyone watch shows on t.v.? They are filled with ads, you can only watch one episode at a time, and you have to watch it when it is airing. Instead, you can download (and if it’s Gossip Girl very quickly) and someone has already kindly removed all the ads for you. You can download several episodes at once. You can watch them at your leisure. You can put them on an external drive and run them right onto your flat screen television or even pump them onto your ipod for the subway ride to work.
Well, I know my sister (20) watches TV on TV – but she’s been watching TV on DVD a lot more. She gets online regularly, but I don’t think she watches anything longer than a YouTube video. My wife and I (15 years her senior) just gave up TV altogether for the internet.
So, is it an age gap or technology gap? What do you think? The comments are open.
The time of year when I catch up on shows that I missed and the TV networks bombard me with advertisements for the new shows debuting next season. I think. Has it started yet? I don’t know. I don’t own a TV.
My list of links to the shows I’m watching is about half done. There is little motivation until new shows come out. Instead I found myself finishing Burn Notice Season 1 by getting the two-part finale free off of iTunes.
We also finished Disc 2 of House M.D. Season 1. This is a really good show. If you’re like me and missed the boat the first go round, pick it up.
We watched In Plain Sight on Hulu rather than USA Network this week. Our first impression is: The controls are much better. Better for going INTO full screen mode, better once you’re there.
On USA Network’s site, to go to full screen you have to click a small rectangle-within-a-rectangle no bigger than my Mac’s pointer. At first I didn’t even know it was clickable. On Hulu it’s a large button. It’s so large of a button that it fits the words “Full Screen” and an easy-to-see icon. The ICON is four times the size of USA’s whole button. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.
Once in full screen, on USA Network’s site uses the same controller as when it’s in a tiny window. It doesn’t get any bigger. Pause is a tiny target sandwiched between “rewind” and “exit full screen”, barely a fraction of an inch apart.
On Hulu’s site, “pause” and “exit full screen” are on opposite corners. In fact, they ARE the opposite corners. The whole corner square inch is one big button on each side. To rewind/forward, just click the timeline. Brain-dead simple to figure out and do from the sofa.
TheDailyShow.com’s player is similar to Hulu’s, but not quite the same. The buttons are still in opposite corners, but they don’t take up the whole corner. Someone on Comedy Central’s website team needs to learn about Fitts’s Law. (Remember: Design is more than “how it looks”)
After Hulu and TheDailyshow.com, the USA Network player is bad enough to make me NOT browse USA Network’s site for new shows when I’m looking to discover new content. Instead, I watched the Pilot Episode of Remington Steele and added The Riches to my list, both found on Hulu.
Speaking of The Riches, I watched the pilot episode of yesterday. It was 180 degrees from what I was expecting. When I read Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, I was expecting a sitcom. When I saw it was an hour long, I still imagined something closer to The O.C. than The Sopranos. Instead, I got the best Pilot I’ve seen all month. I cannot wait to finish Season 1.
This week brought another episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager and another visit to ABC Family’s web site to stream the episode. This time everything appeared to be there, but I only clicked on Episode 3 for fear of jinxing it.
Same as last week, you have to click the screen after each commercial break, but you can click anywhere. Still annoying.
On the download front, both my wife and I are still enjoying The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I downloaded this fully expecting it to blow as badly as Clerks, My Big Fat Greek Life, and many other Movie-to-TV translations. Instead, I find myself curious to see where they’re taking this. It may have to be added to the list.
I have low expectations for The Two Coreys, Season 1. After Scott Baio is 45… and Single (and its sequel) my appetite for peeping into the dirty laundry of the stars of my childhood entertainment is is fully whet and the torrent is 99% finished.
First Review: 18 JULY 2008
From the Website:
“the show with zefrank” was a short video program produced Monday through Friday
for one year (March 17, 2006 – March 17, 2007). […] Start by watching a popular episode or two—but realize that you’re joining a conversation already in progress.
While no longer topical, “the show with zefrank” definitely holds up with age. That isn’t something you can say about a lot of Internet Original material.
Smart, hip, and funny – this podcast is a shining example of the quality that Internet Originals can be.
I recommend starting at the beginning and watching three or four in a setting. Any more than that can cause confusion, then addiction, and finally sudden withdrawl when the show comes abruptly to a stop.
Ze, I know you’re still out there. I hope you come back online with another show.
Who likes the little, little duckies in the pond? The Comments are open.