Friday, December 21, 2007

TV on Your Desktop

I was fortunate enough to be reading TechCrunch today when the notice went up that there were some private beta invitations available for the much-anticipated Hulu.com service.

What? You've never heard of it?

Hulu is a site which provides premium content on the Web. "Premium content" includes both current and classic programs from a variety of providers, including NBC Universal, FOX and a smattering of others.

When I logged in I was able almost immediately to stream a recent episode of "Monk" to my computer screen. I checked out "The Office" and browsed through a number of clips from the Sci-Fi Channel, including their recent "Tin Man" miniseries. I was especially thrilled to discover that Hulu has the complete run of one of my favorite short-lived shows, "Firefly".

The video quality was remarkably good. Despite that, my desktop computer had no problems keeping up with the playback. My "so old that Moses must have brought it down" laptop was even able to do a fairly respectable job (though I didn't try to run it on full screen mode -- I'm not expecting miracles, after all).

The videos show with "limited commercial interruption". In the case of the hour and 26 minute "Firefly" pilot episode, this meant that there were 5 30-second commercials. Not a big deal, but if you really can't stand commercials, then you may have a hard time since there isn't any convenient way to fast-forward (though you can attempt to restart the video after the ad spot).

Some interesting features include the ability to "pop-out" the video to a separate smaller window, go to full screen mode, and even to embed clips or even whole videos in your content. The latter facility even allows you to specify a smaller chunk of the video if you wanted to make commentary on a specific part of the offering. I would have loved this tool back when I wrote about meeting Gil Gerard of 1970's "Buck Rogers" fame (Hulu has a selection of Buck's adventures in their library).

I'll be interested to see how this develops. Right now the catalog of videos includes whole seasons of episodes, but not usually the entire run of a show. Will they continue to add episodes until the entire run is available? Will the episodes expire? Do people even want to watch TV this way?

So, how would you use the Hulu service? Or would you?

1 comment:

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

I'm still mad because WKRP DVDs dubbed out all the music that was on the original TV show.
Something about licensing rights. If I was a musician I would want EVERYONE EVERYWHERE listening to my music even on reruns of WKRP!