Archive for the ‘Internet TV’ Tag
Back in March ’09 I asked: Have you switched from Cable to The Internet? The results were incredible. Back then, 1 in 4 (24%) had made the switch completely. I said I would keep you posted if things change.
As of today, more than 1/3 of those polled (36%) have cut the cable and gone all-internet.
The biggest leap is those that answered “some”. Back then just over half of those polled (52%) had streamed or downloaded some TV. At the time, I could hardly believe the number was so large …but now 4 out of 5 polled (82%) are getting some content via the internet.
Disclaimer: This poll is ongoing, therefore flawed, but it illustrates an unmistakable trend that is getting too big to ignore.
Take the poll here.
Where did I hear this? Everywhere. Here’s a quote from the CSM:
The Wii joins the PS3, Xbox 360, LG and Samsung Blu-ray players, TiVo, a set-top box from Roku, and even some TVs in offering access to Netflix’s streaming catalog. Like the PS3, the Wii will require users to send away for a special disc to pop in when they want to watch streaming content.
December saw the top web series bounce back in popularity after a two-month slump. Actually, they did more than that.
The highest peak recorded since we started our monthly series was 93 million views in September. It dropped all the way to 73 million in November. Last month? 106 million. That’s despite the tendency for online viewership to drop while people visit their families during the holidays.
Read the whole thing, and check out their handy-dandy chart @ Mashable.com
At freedocumentaries.org we strongly believe that in order to have a true democracy, there has to be a free flow of easily accessible information. Unfortunately, many important perspectives, opinions, and facts never make it to our televisions or cinemas (you can watch movies in our media category if you want to know why).
I was getting ready to type up my views on the Netflix’s announcement when I ran across an article @ TechCrunch called “Netflix Stabs Us In The Heart So Hollywood Can Drink Our Blood”
The problem here is that the assumption is that Hollywood will be ready and willing to favorably deal with Netflix in the future for streaming. Mark my words, that will only happen if and when piracy becomes a problem. Do we really believe that Hollywood wants to give Netflix (or anyone else) movies to stream early rather than having people buy them first? No, it’s the exact same problem. It’s a problem of greed.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Grab your copy over @ Boxee.TV – if you can. Their server seems to be getting slammed at the moment.
At this time of year every blog, zine, site, and paper writes their End Of The Year wrap-up for whatever field it is that they cover – so I guess that means that I should be doing the same.
I’m not going to do it.
It would take too long and the play-by-play doesn’t really matter. All that matters is the outcome. At the end of 2009, only five links count in Online Television. Here they are.
1. Hulu – OK, there have been hints that they’re going to end the all-free gravy train. One of the three big partners got 51% swallowed by Comcast. And you still can’t watch it on an iPhone. It doesn’t matter. That ton of dough they dropped in 2009 worked and Hulu is a household name in more non-geek households than anybody.
2. Netflix – After killing Blockbuster, they’re going after PPV in a big way. They’re positioning themselves less as a DVD rental company and more of an entertainment delivery company. It’s working. Netflix is becoming THE name in net-connected devices from Blu-Ray Players and videogame consoles to the Boxee Box and even HDTVs themselves.
3. YouTube – Sure, Old Media loves portraying YouTube as a bunch of shaky cellphone videos and latter-day Wayne’s World clones – and the tech press still loves to poo-poohs them over techy things like getting stingy with their API, but Aunt Fran and Uncle Steve can’t be swayed. They know all about the YouTube and have spent a lot of fun time there. Through 2009, YouTube has still made comparatively few deals with TV and Movie networks, but they’ve given birth to more Internet Originals than anyone could count. Did anyone care how many radio stars the TV networks had in 1949? You Betcha! Did anyone care how many radio stars the TV networks had in 2009? Not in the least. We’re still very early in the first inning, folks. This will be a long game. And don’t forget, YouTube beat Hulu and Netflix to the iPhone by going on three years. Don’t underestimate the power of portability.
4. InstantWatcher – I’ve seen a few proto-aggregates pop up from time to time (including at this very website), but none lasted. At the end of 2009 the shining star seems to be InstantWatcher. It’s clean, fast, and easy. It’s like the Craigslist of finding streaming content on Netflix. Let’s hope they expand to include more sources.
5. iTunes – Apple customers can go out and get content from a variety of sources, but if you want to sell stuff TO those customers you have to go through Apple first. Apple doesn’t restrict me from using Handbrake or Evom and filling my iPhone with free content from the net and DVD rentals, but there is only ONE built-in “just press here” way to get content: the iTunes Store. Apple banks on laziness and ineptitude. It doesn’t matter if these tools have gotten “just five clicks and you are done” easy, most people don’t know this and don’t care enough to find out. The iTunes Store is relatively cheap, very easy, and (most importantly) right there. Who cares if it costs a dollar more? For most people it’s worth the dollar to save the time and effort to learn the other way. That’s not even taking free podcasts into account. Apple doesn’t sell (or even host!) podcast content, but they are the largest aggregate of Internet Originals and Studio Content, both free and paid. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
That’s it. That’s Who’s Who at the End of 2009. Don’t sweat it too much. At this point it’s likely to change as often as the weather and every player in my List of Links ( —-> —-> —-> —-> —-> —-> —–> —-> —-> —-> ) will be vying for number one.
Disagree? That’s what the comments are for.
From the “What Were They Thinking Department”:
…it looks like the company’s plan to further roll out testing of the consumption-based billing method has been foiled, or at least stalled, because it couldn’t find enough customers to participate in the testing. TWC had planned to test in several loactions, including San Antonio and Austin, Texas, but the response has apparently been so negative, and there were so many complaints, that the company has “delayed” the trials until October.
In addition to the Made-to-Order DVD service I told you about a few days ago, Warner has opened it’s own video store.
Rent, Buy, Download, Stream, or have your movie mailed on a plastic disc.
[UPDATE: Windows & IE only for streaming. Vista only for Downloads.]
2001: A Space Odyssey costs $2.95 to rent and $9.95 to buy.
Internet news needs investigative journalists with credibility and integrity to create compelling original content.
There is nothing inherent to ink-on-paper that makes it better suited for telling news.
The internet frees video news from the shackles of network censors and the time constraints of a formula news show.
I would buy any product that buys in-line ad time for Ted Koppel: Uncensored, and would watch it every night if they made their API available for Boxee, App Store Apps, and the like.
[Update: Edited for clarity and to fix grammatical errors]
Lately, many people who are ignorant of how the internet and APIs work are showing off their ignorance.
Loren Feldmen does it twice in one video. First by choosing a video host that doesn’t allow embedding (and expecting the internet to still behave like it did in 2006), second by suggesting that Boxee is stealing content from Hulu.
He says it himself at the beginning: Boxee is a browser for your TV. Yet at around the four minute mark he says:
Boxee (now) takes Hulu (ok) AND the content that Hulu cut deals with. Now Lets Talk about the content.
Then he goes on to rant about how taking content is wrong, and that artists deserve compensation.
The problem is: Boxee is no more stealing content from Hulu than Firefox is.
Yes, taking content is wrong. However, no one took anything. You just kinda breezed over that fact.
The content is the exact same content users of the website see in Fullscreen Mode. Boxee is just a browser.
Hulu is still serving up the content and still serving up the ads.
The Sock Puppet thinks that somehow pulling up a website in a different browser makes it “from a different provider”, and that if you use Boxee you aren’t getting your content from Hulu. The rest of his rant is based on this misconception.
Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:
You guys get so hooked in with the fuckin’ distribution that you forget about the content. The content is having to deal with Charlie Sheen @ $600,000 a week, showing up drunk, so you can fucking watch it on Hulu. Ok. They cut those deals.
OK. There’s so much wrong there. I’ll start with Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen works for Chuck Lorre Productions. He does not work with anyone connected with Hulu or it’s corporate parents.
Next, you seem to be using “Content” interchangeably to refer to both “Content Producers” and “Content Distributers”. You’re falling for the same trick the RIAA pulls when it behaves as if they are the ones making the music.
Most television shows are made by independent production companies and are merely distributed by TV networks. (That’s what all those cards at the end of every show are all about.)
The production company gets compensated when they sell (first-)broadcast rights to a block of episodes. Often they will pre-sell the show before filming anything other than a single episode. Often they will seek Network funding to pay for the single episode in return for first pick-up rights. This is what gives laymen the impression that the networks make the shows. The money is flowing from the network, but it’s payment for a delivery. (The network makes money by “giving away” the shows via live broadcast stream, and selling ad time at a rate based on the number of eyeballs the “give away” brings in.)
[This isn’t how ALL TV Procuction is done. Some shows sell all their rights to the Networks including aftermarket (syndication and DVD) rights, others sell their rights to Domestic Television Distributors (who then license them to the Networks), and some shows actually ARE produced in-house (but very little of it is Primetime content). The point is: One all-encompassing label, like “Content” or “Content Provider” gives distributors too much credit and works on the assumption that the producer isn’t going to find a new distributor. (It happens. “Scrubs” jumped from NBC to ABC this year). ]
Anyway, back to the Sock Puppet:
Boxee took TV Shows from the web and put back on your TV
No. They didn’t. Boxee is a browser. It’s a computer program, It doesn’t run on a TV. It runs on a computer. If someone connects that computer to a TV you don’t magically deserve more money because the picture is bigger and the viewer can sit in a comfy chair.
Besides, a digital TV screen is nothing but a computer monitor. Boxee can’t be held liable for the size of people’s computer monitors.
And Now the guys who create The TV
You mean “The guys who distribute licensed shows”
…are saying “Listen. We don’t want it on Boxee”.
How about Opera? Is Safari OK? What about IE?
You don’t want it on Boxee? I got news for you. The Makers of that content want it on Boxee, and sooner or later, we’ll have our Nine Inch Nails / Radiohead and they WILL bypass you.
If you’re going to watch TV on a TV, how about this: WATCH IT ON FUCKING TV. IS THAT SO UNFAIR? They’re already dealing with DVRs, OnDemand… they’re paying Charlie Sheen. You’re not.
It is not your customer’s job to support your business model.
If you make less money per viewer because that viewer watched it Via Web Browser vs Via Cable then you got screwed in negotiations.
As we are moving from one type of distribution model to another, all the middlemen are trying to take bigger bites than they used to have.
Content Makers (not distributors) need to realize:
1. the dollar-to-eyeball ratio is the most important metric,
2. the distributers will screw both the people they buy content from AND the people they sell content to, if you don’t watch them
3. the distributers will cloud the subject with red herrings.
People watching Hulu in Boxee rather than Firefox is a Red Herring to distract from the REAL problems with internet video advertising revenue and artist compensation.
If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the advertisers are paying Hulu isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.
If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio Hulu is paying The Networks isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.
If the eyeballs-per-dollar ratio the Networks are paying the people who actually make the content isn’t the same as broadcast/cable/satellite – that’s a problem.
It’s about the content, not the web site.
The red herring worked. In order to to stress that you should watch it on the Hulu website, The Sock Puppet keeps repeating:
Boxee is just an add-on. A browser. It’s all about the content.
Take your own advice Sock Puppet: Stop focusing on the browser. Stop focusing on the web site. It’s about the content of the stream. Hulu is Hulu in every browser! In Firefox, Safari, IE, or on Boxee; it all comes from the same place and 100% of the in-line ads get passed along. Boxee’s existence in no way lessens the number of streamed ads that get fed to eyeballs.
Hulu’s corporate parents behave as if the point of the endeavor is the website. Content is the bait to get eyeballs to the website (just like a TV network), and ad sales will pay for the website (just like a TV network). Unfortunately, that business model only works if your viewers are coming to see the website itself and only care about the video content as much as the wallpaper and the flash ads.
Advertisers: Hulu can’t deliver on a promise that the number of eyeballs that watched the stream will be equal to the number of eyeballs that saw a banner ad.
Banner ad impressions should be measured independently and sold to advertisers separately from the in-line ads. If they aren’t, then the advertisers should be demanding to know why not. Hulu shouldn’t be bundling all their different advertising methods (banners, pop-ups, in-line) into a single unified price scheme.
If they ARE priced and sold separately, then this is the biggest overreaction to a browser I’ve seen in a long time.
If Hulu was smart, it would license the API for their stream.
It should be done for two reasons: a) to insure proper usage and accurate viewership counting, and b) to allow for a Network TV style price structure where ad revenue for in-line ads would scale up with viewership. The money generated from the website would become “icing on an API cake” rather than the cornerstone of the business model.
Hulu can make more money on a raw stream than their website could ever generate. Remember: It’s about the content. With Boxee, viewers watch shows and ads. What’s the problem?
If you don’t like the dollars-to-eyeballs ratio of streaming your video, negotiate for comparable-to-broadcast rates. Bitching because your viewer is legally watching via a more convenient legally available method is stupid and pointless.
The Sock Puppet finishes up by saying that micropayments are the future, and every show worth watching will be charging. You’ll pay or not watch.
Good Luck stuffing the genie back in that bottle. It worked so well for the RIAA and the MPAA.
[UPDATE: Four days after posting, I went back to his site to catch up on the reaction to my Trackback, if any, and found the link gone, the comments closed, and nary a mention of this piece. Read into that whatever you want.]
The evolution of television is really just the continued evolution of our greatest interpersonal communications system. It was born out of language, matured with writing, and continues to evolve today through interfaces such as the web.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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]
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.)