Fancast – Another Hulu Challenger

24 02 2009

 

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.

fancast2

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.

hulu1

fancast

Summary

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.

Resources

http://www.hulu.com
http://www.fancast.com
http://www.TV.com
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Get Hulu Content on Your TV without Hulu’s Help

22 02 2009

This is a story from Lifehacker about alternatives to Hulu for getting your TV content.  In the end, they are saying people will revert back to Bittorrent for getting TV shows, much the same way they had done before.  People aren’t looking to be pirates, they are looking for convenience.  I actually agree with this guys take.  Give it a read if online TV is a topic you are interested in.

Casey

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http://lifehacker.com/5156515/get-hulu-content-on-your-tv-without-hulus-help

By Adam Pash, 3:00 PM on Thu Feb 19 2009, 48,388 views Let’s say a certain web site you liked went and did something kind of stupid, and now the TV shows you were watching legitimately on your actual TV have suddenly disappeared. Guess what? There are other options.

That’s right, there’s BitTorrent—the file sharing protocol that so many people were using before they were finally offered a content provider-approved method of watching the shows they love. In the end, it wasn’t about the commercials—it was about the convenience. People were happy to watch Hulu on their TVs via Boxee, and yeah, sit through the Hulu commercials, because it was more convenient than hassling with BitTorrent downloads. It’s not about piracy or “stealing” from content providers because people are malicious like that; it’s about convenience.

Let’s say that I’m already paying for cable, but I didn’t watch the show when it aired. Sure, I could watch it on Hulu on my laptop, but I want to watch it on my TV. And why shouldn’t I be able to? What’s the difference between serving ads through my monitor and my HDTV? I’ll still sit through them, because they’re more convenient than the alternative. Yeah, more convenient than BitTorrent. Or at least it was.

But BitTorrent’s not that inconvenient, especially after Hulu’s content providers reject progress in favor of their tried and true one-step-forward, two-steps-back philosophy of progress. BitTorrent is easy to get the hang of, people.

Upset users can easily follow our beginner’s guide to BitTorrent, and spice up their skills with our intermediate guide. If they’re really savvy, they can even do their best to protect their privacy from prying eyes. But it doesn’t end there!

BitTorrent users can subscribe to shows and automatically download them as soon as they’re available using tools like the previously mentioned Ted or by setting up feeds in their BitTorrent client of choice with sites like previously mentioned FeedMyTorrents. It’s not hard, trust us. Keep in mind, we’re not saying “Go pirate every Hulu show now that Hulu won’t let you watch it the way you want to.” But that is what people will do. Everyone watching Hulu through Boxee is an early adopter—they know how to make things work. The point is—as O’Reilly’s Mark Hedlund articulated better than we could:

I’m sure Hulu is totally pissed. They pretty much said just that in a somewhat more stilted way. The real insult, though, is calling the people who made them cut Boxee off “content providers.” They might as well have told the studios they are the moral equivalent of the guy schlepping reels around the projector booth. Someone will win this war eventually, they seem to be saying, and you could have helped make it us.

Now you have a choice: someone else — not you, someone smart — will win instead, or you can change your mind. That’s pretty much my view, too. DVDs (mentioned in the note at the start) became a big boon for the studios, once their crazy ideas about self-destructing Divx discs went the way of the Dodo. The studios have a very long history of betting against technology people want, and on technology people don’t want. This is just another such case. The technology people want always wins in the end — no duh — and usually benefits the businesses who fought that technology to the death.

Here’s hoping the technology people want — Boxee — doesn’t wind up benefiting the studios fighting it now. Did you feel the sting from the Hulu block—whether it was the Boxee or TV.com block? Let’s hear your reaction in the comments.





How to Reinstall a Working Hulu in Boxee – Lifehacker

22 02 2009

I realize this process is not going to be for the average non-technical person, but then again, that person probably doesn’t have an Apple TV or Boxee anyway.  Good luck for those that want to try it.

Casey

A hacker’s plug-in can put streaming Hulu content back into your Boxee media center on Linux, Macs, or Apple TV. Let’s take a walk through removing the busted Hulu and dropping in the new hotness.

Click on the thumbnails below to get bigger screenshots of each step, and mouse to the top-right and top-left of the pop-up box to head forward and back. Before embarking on the process, grab the Hulu plugin package from these forum links. Need help getting Boxee set up on an Apple TV? Check out our comprehensive guide.

UPDATE: Some people on Apple TVs, and other systems, are seeing a “Failed to retrieve data” message, and I was too, earlier. I fixed it by removing the extra-level “Hulu” folder and copying the folder inside it into the correct plugin folder (listed below for each system). In other words, make sure the folder you’re dropping into your plugin folder contains two folders, .svn and resources, and three files, not another “Hulu” folder.

Go to the link below to find the step by step process.

http://lifehacker.com/5157615/how-to-reinstall-a-working-hulu-in-boxee?skyline=true&s=x





Hulu Has been removed from Boxee!

19 02 2009

Below is the note from Boxee’s website.  In general, it will be tough for Boxee to survive without Hulu.  This makes me wonder if Microsoft, Apple, or some other large company is pulling some strings in the background.  Stay tuned for more news and updates.

Casey

The Hulu situation general — avner ronen on February 18, 2009 @ 5:55 pm we love Hulu. they have built a great product and brand (including one the best Superbowl ads this year). since our early days in private alpha, Hulu was the most requested site by our users. so we built support for browsing Hulu on boxee, reached out to Hulu, and on Oct 20th, 2008 shared it with our alpha testers. the response has been amazing. people love watching many of their favorite shows on Hulu via boxee. last week we generated more than 100,000 streams for them…

Two weeks ago Hulu called and told us their content partners were asking them to remove Hulu from boxee. we tried (many times) to plead the case for keeping Hulu on boxee, but on Friday of this week, in good faith, we will be removing it. you can see their blog post about the issues they are facing.

Our goal has always been to drive users to legal sources of content that are publicly available on the Internet. we have many content partners who are generating revenue from boxee users and we will work with Hulu and their partners to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

We will tell them how users love Hulu on boxee, why it represents a great opportunity for them to better engage with fans of their shows, how boxee can help in exposing their content to new people, and why they should be excited about future opportunities of working with us. we will blog/tweet as soon as we have any updates

hulu





TV.com loses prime TV shows; CBS won’t say why – David Chartier

18 02 2009

From ARS Technica

TV.com’s December 2008 metamorphosis from a water cooler around which TV fans could chat into a full-scale content portal meant that it had to cut a few deals with competitors and studios, such as Hulu and PBS, to bring in more shows. Now, some of these outside shows have begun disappearing from the CBS-owned portal. Ars spoke with a CBS Interactive spokesperson about why shows on TV.com are going dark.

CBS was originally invited to join in on Hulu’s launch by the joint venture’s parent companies, NBC and FOX. CBS declined, opting to forge its own content licensing deals with other outlets and to launch its own portal with TV.com.

For its property’s rebirth, CBS did license a healthy chunk of content from Hulu (including Family Guy and Heroes), along with shows from other studios like MGM, PBS, and Sony Pictures Television.

Everything was going well with the site after the relaunch; CBS recently reported a 263 percent increase in unique viewers, a whopping 1,261 percent increase in streams, and a corresponding 4,435 percent increase in viewed minutes. So why is so much of the full content now disappearing?

Before the redesign, TV.com’s claim to fame was its 16 million monthly unique visitors who chatted about the week’s events in their favorite shows, stayed on top of industry news, and watched short video clips. CNET launched TV.com in 2005, which moved to CBS after the company acquired CNET in 2008.

TV-dot-comFamilyGuy.jpg The mystery of the vanishing content Shows such as FOX’s Family Guy and PBS’ NOVA—are disappearing from TV.com. Where full episodes once were, only a disappointing “video unavailable” message remains. The “full episode” links on the site still lead to a full list of episodes for each show—the episodes just do not work.

A CBS Interactive spokesperson confirmed to Ars that “Hulu did pull down their content” but would not say why or whether it would be coming back anytime soon. CBS Interactive’s spokesperson sounded genuinely surprised to hear that shows from other studios, such as PBS, had gone MIA as well, suggesting that either it may not have been the studio’s doing or it had simply happened quite recently.

The likely explanations for Hulu pulling its content are either a squabble over licensing and revenue, or CBS making a decision to bypass Hulu content altogether. CBS reportedly gets only 10 percent of TV.com ad revenue from shows licensed from Hulu, so it may be able to get a better deal by directly licensing this content from the studios.

In any event, in the short term, “video unavailable” is never a good way to greet new users who are hungry for entertainment.





Another World Record for Macci

18 02 2009

For those of you interested in extreme overclocking, I highly recommend watching this video.  Sami “Macci” Makinen and his team from Finland have broken 3DMark 06 and Frequency records, using Phenom II and Liquid Nitrogen.  Very cool!! (yes pun intended)





Boxee – Get access to Hulu on your TV

18 02 2009

I have been playing around with various Online TV clients lately, and one that gets a lot of mentions is from a company called Boxee.  I have been long anticipating trying Boxee, but they haven’t yet released a Windows Client. 

I finally got tired of waiting and dusted off my Mac Mini over the weekend.  I am still testing it, so don’t have too much to report yet, but I thought I would embed a video from there site, so you can get a feel for their UI. 

As I get more and more familiar with the tool, I will keep updating the site with info on how it is coming.  I am especially interested in seeing Boxee versus Secondrun.tv.  At this point though, one is a Windows product, and one is for Mac and Linux.  If you are currently a Boxee user, please share with me your thoughts and opinions, through either comments below or Twitter.  @caseygotcher

Casey