I finally got into the Beta at Hulu last week. I am very excited about the service which, if you’re not aware, is a new web video service that offers network video content over the internet. It’s free of charge, developed by the big networks and is ad supported just like regular network television. The reason I’m excited about this service is that it’s one step closer to the video entertainment of tomorrow.
The future of TV will be an on demand service. You watch what you want to watch when you want to watch it. Some people might say we’re already there with DVR’s. I say no, a DVR is nothing more than a carry over from old video tape technology and thought process. Sooner or later all your television will be streamed over the internet directly to your TV and that means you can select the specific show and episodes you want to watch (or even categories or tags if you so desire) rather than channels which sometimes have shows you want to watch on but mostly just have garbage.
Removing the need for a person to know what they want to watch before they watch it is a huge benefit of streaming. You can go back weeks, months or even years to get back to the beginning and watch all the episodes of a particular show. It also opens up the door to a feed system similar to RSS in which you get notified when a new episode is available so you can have a list of shows in your queue. Another benefit is the space limitation is now gone you stream the video when you want to watch it as opposed to watching it from your own local copy.
I can’t wait for the day that all movies are available online on demand. I’d love to have a paid premium service that removes the ads. I’m hoping that Hulu will add a premium service eventually that removes the ads all together for a nominal fee. If they were to do that and build the content into Media Center or some other interface that is easily adapted to the television then I would immediately switch over to paying for the service and drop Cable all together.
Thus far my only complaints for the Hulu service deal with their interface. The idea is solid but their UI needs a little bit of work. For starters I’d like to see playlists that contain entire seasons of episodes. I’d also like to see feeds that contain only the episodes of the subscribed show not video clips.
One really neat and brand new feature built into Hulu is the ability to select portions of a video to share. I’ve selected a fitting section of the latest Family Guy to demonstrate below:
All in all I think the cable and satellite companies have some new competition and if they don’t adapt quickly they might be in trouble. If I were Time Warner I’d be working on ways to getting online versions of the same content to my subscribers as quickly as possible.