By Casey Gotcher 2-24-09
For those of you out there always looking for more online content options, you might want to browse over to http://www.fancast.com. Fancast is attempting to be another Hulu alternative. It is owned and operated by Comcast Cable, who claims to have licenced more content than anyone else in the U.S. They have access to NBC, CBS, Fox, MTV, and many other networks and content types. Overall they claim to have over 47,000 TV shows, movies, and video clips available for you to watch on demand.
Interestingly enough, most of the TV shows I clicked on came from Hulu. So in this regard, they are acting more like an aggregator, than a true provider. Given that, it kind of begs the question of what additional value add they provide, that might make me want to consume my TV shows and movies from Fancast, as opposed to just sticking with Hulu. Below are a couple of pros and cons for Fancast, as opposed to Hulu.
Available networks on Fancast: http://www.fancast.com/tv-networks
Pros for Fancast (compared to Hulu):
- Not limited to just Hulu content. They license from other providers as well
- They have options for renting movies and buying TV episodes
- They claim they are adding support for programming your DVR. Still investigating this, but I would expect this to be for Comcast customers only.
Cons for Fancast (compared to Hulu):
- Fancast only seems to give you one option for content resolution. Hulu offers at least two, and sometimes 3. This is a big deal for me, as I like to opt for the 480p option as opposed to the default 360p.
- UI isn’t quite as user friendly as Hulu’s.
- For some reason, it seems to take longer to get to the content. Streams don’t start as quickly and ads seem to take longer. Could be my perception, but I don’t think so.
At the end of the day, the site is worth checking out and certainly worth bookmarking. I wouldn’t say it is ready to truly challenge Hulu though. For me, the limitation on content resolution is a bit of a deal killer. On a low res display, you might not notice or care. On a high res PC display or TV, you do notice the artifacts in the picture, and some addition blurriness. Given that the majority of my Hulu content is consumed on a 720p TV, I really like the DVD quality video I get from Hulu.
I will keep checking back with Fancast, as they add new capabilities and content sources. If the DVR thing truly works, that might be a nice bonus feature for Comcast subscribers. Renting movies and TV shows is kind of a nice to have, but there are other options out there (such as Netflix), so I don’t see that as being a big deal. Same goes for buying programs. I can do that through iTunes or Amazon, so again, nice to have but not enough to put them over the top for me. I will say Fancast probably ranks ahead of TV.com for me at this point. Their UI is better, and they seem to have better content.
Resourceshttp://www.hulu.com http://www.fancast.com http://www.TV.com