I haven’t jumped on the DVR bandwagon yet simply become I’m trying to cut down on the amount of TV I watch. Not that there’s a lot of good shows on TV now but that will change now that the Writers’ Strike is over.
But I digress. A colleague of mine pointed me to a service called Hulu.Com. According to their own About Us information, Hulu is a joint venture owned by NBC Universal and News Corporation. All the content on the site is free and the shows and movies (yes, MOVIES) are streamed to your desktop at very high quality. How are they doing it for free? Advertisements, baby! And unlike some of the other streaming TV and movie offerings that plague you with commercial interrupts seemingly every 2 minutes, you will know when Hulu is going to shove an ad in the middle of your show. On the timeline indicator, there’s a bullet point that shows where the ad is going to occur. So if you’re watching a TV show, an ad will appear at each normal show break as if you had been watching it during the actual broadcast. I can live with that. So far each commercial break has only been 30 seconds long.
And did I mention you can watch movies, too? We’re not talking about small, independent, no-name films either. We’re talking feature films, like Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Of course there are commercial interrupts during the show, but again, they’re only 30 seconds long.
It also has a great collection of TV clips like from Saturday Night Live, The Family guy or even Battlestar Galactica.
A writer for Silicon Alley Insider wrote an interesting article about how he decided to drop his digital cable TV subscription in favor of using Hulu. I’m not quite there yet since I have kids who’s world revolves around PBS Kids and Playhouse Disney.
I’m sure as the popularity of the site grows, there’s going to be an issue of bandwidth and I have seen some other postings that their service does become unavailable from time to time, but so does my cable provider. But right now, the quality of the "broadcast" is great and so is the selection of shows and movies. Definitely great for someone who’s on the road a lot. I haven’t had a chance to try it on the wireless at a hotel, but over my home wireless network, it streams just fine. Now if I could only synch this with my Zune or Archos player, I’d really be in heaven. <grin>