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Tag: Hulu

Boxee And Hulu Integration In Media Center

Posted by angelo at 6:30 PM on September 15, 2010

If you’re a Windows Media Center user then you, no doubt, are disappointed by Hulu‘s snubbing of the platform.  You probably also have waited for Boxee to arrive.  After all, Netflix jumped on board about a year ago.  Why not the other major players?

Netflix is always quick to jump into whatever platform they can get themselves on.  They get it.  I’m not saying Hulu doesn’t get it, because I think they do.  But, they are handcuffed by NBC and Fox.  With the recent release of Hulu Plus came the announcements of the platforms they are now available on.  After avoiding it for the first couple of years, they are no longer afraid of getting on actual living room TV’s.  Well, they told themselves they were avoiding it, but every geek in the world was already watching them on the TV.  So where is the deal with the biggest computer company in the world?  With the recent release of Media Center embedded and the first set-top boxes starting to leak out this could be a major cash-cow for Hulu.  Think if they made Hulu Plus a part Media Center and Media Center embedded!

Boxee, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same strict, old-fashioned bosses that are behind Hulu.  They jumped straight onto the AppleTV platform, but beyond that and PC’s they didn’t seem to seek out partners anywhere.  And, of course, they didn’t actually partner with Apple – it was a hack that Boxee pushed.

So, Netflix seems to be the only forward-thinking company in this space.  Maybe Amazon, since they have partnered with a few set-top boxes and Blu-ray players, but they also have not jumped onto Media Center.  Now all of these are available in Media Center via pretty simple hacks and plug-ins.  You can find instructions for Hulu here, Boxee here and Amazon Unbox here.  I use the Hulu plugin and Amazon hack on my own HTPC.  I expect that, sooner or later, both Hulu and Amazon will come to Media Center, but with the soon-to-be-released Boxee Box, I am not sure they will be looking to partner with anyone.

GNC-2010-08-23 #604 Some Feedback from Feedback!

Posted by geeknews at 7:51 PM on August 23, 2010

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Where Is Hulu Heading?

Posted by Alan at 8:13 PM on August 18, 2010

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Hulu lately, and I am trying to figure it all out.  There’s Hulu Plus, rumors of an IPO, content questions…the list goes on.  So, what do we make of it all?

Let’s start with Hulu Plus.  For those not familiar, Hulu Plus  is the recently announced, and released, paid version of Hulu.  You can get full details on what’s available in Plus here.  In a nutshell, though, you get every episode from the current season of all shows on ABC, NBC, and FOX, plus all episodes from past seasons of many of the shows.  This comes with a price tag of $9.99 per month.  That’s not a bad price – a whole lot cheaper than any cable or satellite subscription.  There’s no trial though.  You have to pay right from day one, which has been a big drawback for many consumers.

There have also been recent rumors of a Hulu IPO [initial public (stock) offering].  I would have to say it’s a fairly credible rumor based on it coming from the Wall Street Journal.  Based on that story, Hulu may be worth as much as $2 billion on the market and they are looking to use money raised from stock to land contracts from other content providers.  With only three networks on board there is plenty of room for expansion.

That segues nicely into the last question – content.  Obviously an IPO would allow them to have the funds to really negotiate some big time deals – think CBS, HBO or maybe even Disney.  But if that doesn’t pan out, then how do they build relationships to gain more content?

So, we have looked at the three aspects of what Hulu is doing and/or trying to do right now.  Where does that take them?

First, let’s look at Plus.  It’s a good offering.  After all, everyone’s chief complaint had always been the shifting content.  Any given show you wanted had only certain episodes available and those seemed to change regularly.  So this is a solid win for them.  But, what about subscriber numbers?  That seems to be kept secret from every source I checked.  Everyone talked up Plus when it was announced, but how many actually signed up?  Or, maybe more telling, how many signed up expecting a trial only to find that they had to pay from day one?  We need numbers, combined with ad revenue (which is different from every source), to determine how they are really faring.

Second, the IPO (or rumored IPO).  If it’s true, and if the valuation ($2 billion) is in the right ballpark then that solves a big content issue.  More content available, even if it’s only in Plus (and I would assume most would be) means more users.  That much money, or even close to that much, would allow for negotiations for big content providers.  Every major provider added, such as an HBO, would add huge amounts of value to Hulu and their revenue.

And third, the content question.  This one pretty much hinges on number two.  If the IPO happens, and goes as laid out in the WSJ, then this is moot.  But, if not, then where does Hulu turn to add subscribers?  They have a decent stream of revenue from ads, plus whatever they are getting from Plus subscribers, so there is some money to work with.  In this case they will need to work with smaller networks to get content.

So, let me come to a conclusion, such as it is, here.  We know nothing about the Plus subscribers and, therefore, nothing of the revenue from the program.  The IPO is a rumor, although fairly well based.  If it happens then Hulu has the money to go after the big fish,  But that doesn’t mean they will land any of them.  I think Disney is out of the question for now.  I think CBS and HBO are possible.  If they don’t do the IPO then they go after smaller content providers.  I would think Comedy Central would be on top of the list.  Having The Daily Show would really be a feather in the cap.  But, it can’t go in Plus, because it’s already free on Comedy Central’s web site.  Showtime might also be possible, and they have some sought-after original content.  Then all of the others – Discovery, History, WB, USA, etc.

It seems that they can make it without the IPO and without making a lot off of Plus (if they get something like The Daily Show in their regular feed).  So, they are viable for the foreseeable future.  But, I think, as they stand now, they are not in the best place.  They will definitely need revenue to add either one or two big providers or several smaller ones.  And, depending on who they add, will make the difference of if the content goes to Plus or not.  But some, no matter how much it hurts them, will have to go to the regular, free feed.  After all, that’s what brings the initial views.

Are 30 Second Ads Hurting uStream, Livestream, Justin.tv?

Posted by J Powers at 7:43 PM on August 11, 2010

Ad Dollars

It’s the cost of doing business – advertising pays the bills. However, when you have a live show where someone clicks on – and is ready to move on when they don’t get instant gratification, 30 second ad might make them move on before they even see the show. Is 30 too long and what is the magic number?

But Hulu Does it…

Hulu, of course, has really cornered the market on stream TV. And most people will wait through the ads. Each ad is 30 seconds.

Some of them are longer and give you the option to watch the longer commercial to avoid the commercials at the breaks.  Some of them are only 10-15 second ads, too.

There are 7 commercial spots in a 1-hour TV show on Hulu. It’s network content from NBC, ABC, FOX (and soon CBS on HULU Plus). It’s not live content, so nobody misses a thing (Same thing with YouTube – pre-recorded, so an ad can easily go in without losing content time).

We might even expect and accept network TV ads simply because it is coming from a major network.

Why it doesn’t work on uStream, Justin.tv

Whereas Hulu contains studio productions that can take a pause 7 times a show, uStream and Justin.tv contains live content. Every extra second an ad takes, you lose what is being done or said.

For a person trying to start great content on this system, a 30 second commercial in the foreground could cause loss of viewership. The person, in turn, could just nix the idea and move on simply because it’s harder to get an audience.

Refresh

If the content freezes or if the system crashes, then when you head back to the site, you have to endure another 30 second ad. Would that make people feel the need to come back to the site?

How should they make money?

I’m not talking about taking away the ads – just remember that people will not only leave a show, but also leave a website because they are not entertained.

10-15 seconds ads sound palatable. Add the pop-up ad every now and then – You’ve got a winning combination. Maybe when the show is off-line, content is played with breaks – 15 seconds every 5-10 minutes of content.

Browser Blocker add-ons?

Yes – if you install an add-on blocker in your browser, you could avert those ads. Personally I wouldn’t do that. It is a free service, after all. They need to make money to keep it free.

Pay a Premium?

What if the content producer paid to do their show? Would that in turn be good or bad for companies like uStream?

If the consumer was asked to pay, you might get a few that do it for a while. Most would want to go somewhere else for their content. You can only ask and see what happens.

While sites like uStream, Livestream and Justin.tv need to make money, long ads in front of the videos might not be the answer. Re-thinking the ad sounds like a better idea. break up off-line content -Play an add every 5-10 minutes in a pre-recorded show. Pop-up video ads that are not too invasive. That is what is needed in a live “See it now” environment.

OTT And Paid Content

Posted by tomwiles at 11:41 AM on July 9, 2010

OTT, short for “over-the-top-television” is an up-and-coming acronym that we are all likely going to become familiar with in the near future, provided someone doesn’t come up with a different marketing name. The concept is simple – it’s TV that comes “over the top” of traditional channels on a cable system via the Internet delivered in digital packets. It can either be live streaming video, on-demand streaming video, or in the form of a pre-recorded on-demand podcast.

There are many aspects of over-the-top TV that have yet to be shaken out. Specifically, here in the early stages there are some still-murky areas when it comes to details of how advertising is going to work.

Things that we know about how OTT works successfully so far:

People are willing to pay for bundled on-demand professionally created OTT content in the form of Netflix on-demand streaming of movies, TV shows, and other content. The bundled Netflix price for all-you-can-eat on-demand streaming OTT offers the consumer a real value. In most cases, a great deal of marketing money and effort has been spent promoting the majority of individual movies and other content that are available on Netflix, so the consumer has a fairly high degree of familiarity with much of the on-demand streaming content they offer. These are essentially repurposed movies that are already on the shelf.

People are willing to watch on-demand streaming OTT of professionally-created content with embedded ads as demonstrated by the ongoing success of Hulu.Com. The consumer is likely already familiar with a portion of the content, but Hulu also allows the consumer to discover and explore previously unknown TV show content in an on-demand stream with embedded ads. These are essentially repurposed TV shows, some movies, and other content.

Live streaming OTT of live content is still catching on. The most successful live OTT content as typified by what Leo Laporte and company are generating still offers an on-demand podcast version that can be downloaded later. Currently, on-demand, after-the-fact podcast versions of live OTT generated content end up with many more downloads than people watching via live streams. Both live streaming OTT and the on-demand podcast versions can contain ads. For the ads to be effective in this format, they need to be relevant to the audience’s needs and desires. The old “shotgun” advertising approach does not work in this format. This specific type of content is closely associated with word-of-mouth promotion.

There are a few questions that remain to be answered. Will consumers pay for on-demand streaming of TV drama-type content they are unfamiliar with — in other words, will consumers pay to watch an on-demand stream of a new TV show drama, documentary or reality show? Using myself as a gage, I wouldn’t pay for individual on-demand episodes of a TV show or movie I wasn’t fairly familiar with. Promotion and word-of-mouth still has to take place.

If consumers will pay-per-view for an unfamiliar on-demand TV show, can the content still contain ads? I think the answer to this depends on the content and its perceived value – i.e., how well it is promoted, and the resulting perceived value that is generated in the potential consumer.

Once “Lost” was a hit TV show, would the fanatic fans have paid for on-demand streams of new episodes? Probably they would have, if they could have gotten them, say a week or so in advance of the actual broadcasts. “Lost” fans would have also put up with ads in the advance on-demand stream. They might have grumbled about it, but if that were the only way it was available in advance, many of them would have opened-up their wallets and paid the price monetarily and with their attention to the embedded ads in order to satisfy their “Lost” habit. Clearly, the producers of “Lost” – ahem – “lost out” on a time-sensitive revenue stream opportunity.

Bottom line, I believe it all revolves around the content and the real and perceived values that the content delivers.

I liked last season’s remake of the old “V” television series. If I could be assured the production values remained just as high, I might pay to subscribe in some manner. If the “V” series is picked up again by ABC next season, I would also pay to subscribe if I could get episodes via on-demand streaming before they were broadcast.

In the meantime, we are still dealing with the death-throws of the old broadcast model with its old appointment based viewing schedule combined with the old shotgun advertising approach. ABC broadcast TV affiliates would have had a cow if “Lost” episodes had been made available as a paid on-demand OTT stream before the episodes were actually broadcast via the network.

The final destination of OTT and when it ends up at that destination depends on what is right for the time. Both delivery infrastructure capabilities and consumer demand will make that determination.

Should You Pay For Content?

Posted by tomwiles at 6:05 PM on July 8, 2010

I was listening to a podcast where the hosts were chatting back and forth about the newly offered Hulu Plus, where for $10 dollars a month, you can get Hulu on a wide variety of devices including smart phones and over-the-top Internet TV boxes. Hulu is also offering a somewhat wider, but still incomplete back catalog archive of shows. One of the hosts was saying he wouldn’t pay for content, he wanted it “for free.”

Whether we realize it or not, we are all paying for content, either directly or indirectly. Even if we have only a TV antenna and watch only the local TV channels, we are still paying for content indirectly via advertising. When we buy consumer products of virtually any kind, part of what we pay goes for advertising, which pays for content creation.

If we are paying indirectly only, someone else is deciding for us as to the quality of the programming content. We can either consume that content or not, but we still pay as consumers buying products. We have very little indirect control over what gets put on the air. On the other hand, if we pay for content directly, then we have far greater control over the quality of the media we are consuming.

If Hulu can offer value for the money, then it will succeed What they have to do is figure out what people are willing to pay for. Perhaps that value revolves around putting highly-sought-after content on as many devices as possible. Perhaps it revolves around coming up with the absolute best back catalog of old TV shows. Imagine having instant streaming access to every TV show ever produced in every country in any language, and every movie ever produced anywhere in any language. Something like that would be well worth paying for. Imagine a site such as IMDB.Com that lists every movie and TV show ever made, except as a subscriber you could instantly stream it – now you’re talking. Hulu, anyone else out there – are you listening?

I personally would be willing to pay for a service such as Hulu, except for one small glitch. There are no back catalog shows on the site at the moment that really excite me. Network drama shows can sometimes be quite good, but my tastes are somewhat different.

When I had Dish Network, I was watching a few selected shows on only 3 channels – Discovery, TLC and History. I can get most of these shows if I really want them at some point via Netflix. To my way of thinking, Netflix is a much better value. Netflix has a far wider variety of content, plus they also offer the handy rental service of DVD’s and Blu-ray discs.

The verdict is currently out whether Hulu will be able to figure out what value it needs to best serve its customers. If people are paying Hulu money directly, then Hulu had better quickly figure out exactly what those customers want and do its best to deliver it to them.

Hey Hulu, here’s an idea to try. Offer first-run streaming movies, but do it the Hulu way. I would be willing to pay for a first run movie streaming for a nominal pay-per-view fee, say $5.99. Vudu is offering streaming first run movies, but you have to have a big fat Internet connection to be able to use Vudu. The Vudu service demands way more bandwidth than my Internet service can currently deliver.

Here’s yet another idea for Hulu – offer exclusive, Hulu-only content consisting of well-produced material revolving around the “Entertainment Tonight” type of concept. Do exclusive interviews of movie and TV stars. Do exclusive interviews of directors. Give people real value for their money. Make your customers want to not only see you succeed, but motivate them to help you succeed.

Why Did The Initial Joost Experiment Fail?

Posted by tomwiles at 10:15 AM on July 6, 2010

A few years ago remember seeing all those “Joost” commercials pushing their Internet TV application? “Proper TV – Joost” the sophisticated-sounding British spokesman endlessly blurted out towards the end of the ad.

Of course, the initial Joost experiment ended badly. The Joost application stopped working December 19, 2008. Literally millions of dollars went down the drain.

I remember downloading and playing with the application and watching a few minutes of the various included streaming videos. I wasn’t impressed, and never opened the application again.

What went wrong? Why have Hulu and Netflix ascended to near household name status, and Joost flopped with the thud of a drunk elephant tripping over it’s own trunk?

There’s something the Joost folks, savvy as they were, failed to take into account. It’s a little something called choice. Joost failed for the same reason that broadcast, cable and satellite providers are losing viewers and subscribers. The “choice” offered by channel surfing revolves around searching for the least-boring junk content that is currently playing. It is choice, but not a very good one. People sitting in front of their Internet-connected computers watching the Joost application trying it’s best to replicate the conventional channel surfing TV experience lost out to the Internet itself. Joost – b-o-r-i-n-g, close it and move on to another website and find something more useful and/or exciting.

The lesson is choice. Enlightened, sophisticated content consumers will choose that content based on three primary criteria – Entertainment, Information, or Character – either any single one or a mixture. By the way, these are the same three filters you apply to your choice in selecting friends.

The failure of the initial Joost experiment was inevitable, and should serve as a warning for all content creators and marketers. Sitting in front of an Internet-connected screen and the conventional channel surfing model don’t mix well. The Internet will easily win the battle.

Will You Survive The Coming Changes?

Posted by tomwiles at 2:11 AM on July 5, 2010

Get ready for a world where everything is on demand and à la carte. Traditional broadcasting is going to change whether it wants to or not. Marketing will be forced to change in profound ways. As a result, content-making will also go through a major metamorphosis.

Marketing and traditional broadcasting have long had an interesting relationship that has had a potentially detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of available content. Television in particular has long been known as “a vast wasteland.” If one thinks about how this lowest-common-denominator programming can exist, the realization emerges that anxious, aggressive television advertisers have often been willing to sponsor junk programming content to capture passive viewers. In the pre-Internet world of broadcast TV, people would surf channels in order to find what was often the least-boring programming. Also because of the hypnotic potential of this type of TV watching, many viewers were willing to sit in front of virtually any programming without really caring about what they were watching, using TV viewing itself as a sort of nightly drug. Marketing messages get programmed into viewer’s brains, but more importantly using this type of passive TV viewing as a drug has definite detrimental side effects to both the individual, the family unit, and society at large.

After a few months of agonizing, I recently cancelled my Dish Network account. I was already a Netflix customer and was watching more stuff from Netflix than I was from Dish Network, so it has been a remarkably easy transition.

There are differences. One of the differences is that I’m now forced to choose what I want to watch when I want to watch TV. Being forced to choose necessarily forces me to choose something I find personally interesting. The net effect is I’m making a conscious choice of my television influences. Of course, another difference is that streamed Netflix content has no ads.

Hulu.Com offers streaming content with ads, and recently started offering an inexpensive monthly premium streaming content option, which also has the added benefit of vastly expanding the list of devices they will stream to beyond the desktop/laptop computer to include media extenders and cell phones. Like Craig’s List cannibalized the local newspaper ad business, Hulu.Com and similar emerging streaming services are going to further cannibalize the now-breaking and broken broadcast TV model. I say this not to blame Hulu and other services as I believe this push for choice has been well underway for a long time and these emerging streaming services are simply accelerating it.

The ad-supported content will be forced to change because the programming must be appealing-enough to consumers to get them to choose the particular content. Non-ad supported content will continue to have a market but will be forced to appeal just the same to induce consumers to choose that content.

GNC-2010-06-25 #587 On a Roll!

Posted by geeknews at 12:51 AM on June 25, 2010

Mom always said don’t count your chickens before they hatch but, I am real happy with the last two shows. It is great to be home. One a second note, I get serious in talking about looking ahead with the show, as I want to advance the shows potential. Through the end of July will be hoping to offset some of the upgrade costs associated with moving forward with donations to the show details within but hope you will consider helping me reach a very big goal.

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GNC-2009-11-30 #532 Live from Texas!

Posted by geeknews at 8:47 PM on November 30, 2009

What does a GPS and a Traffic Jam equal? Detour! I think you will get a kick out of how my GPS saved me hours in my car stuck in a massive traffic jam in I35 in Texas. Find out how Julie wife of long time listener Ronald was able to score days off work by using GotoMyPC. I have a new contest you need to listen to win you have a few short days to act. My 2009 24hr Podcast Charity Announced!

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Top Mobile Apps of 2009.
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Apple Retail down Online Sales Up!
Malware Software Faceoff!
Hadron Collider cranks up the Juice.
ICANN no more Redirecting!
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Get your wallets out for Hulu.
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Hulu focuses on Search.
Who complains the most about companies and how?
Fix that Scratched DVD or CD.
NASA Prepared to take last Module to ISS.
FCC to go forward on White Space Database good for us!
Google Chrome OS on Macs!
Fake Lab Meat food of the Future?
Is your employer taking advantage of you?
Psystar only sold 768 Computers?
ASUS Motheboard lets you mod with Bluetooth.
Intel Chip Roadmap!
Perfect Band-aid!
Do you really want this in your car?
Small Towns + High Speed Internet = Increased Property Values!
What did you buy on Cyber Monday?
How to pick out the Perfect Domain!
iPhone to go to T-Mobile?

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