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
Advertisements

Actions

Information

5 responses

24 02 2009
Robin

Hi Casey,
Thanks for taking the time to review Fancast.com! Thanks to your post users can learn about the site and we can learn from you what you like and do not like. I work for Fancast and am happy to walk you through the differences and to address some of your comments…

Hulu is a great content partner for Fancast. We are proud to have some of their shows as well as our 100+ other content partners. Fancast has over 7,000 hours of online video programming. The great Hulu content is a small percentage of all of the great content we have from other providers such as CBS, MTV, HBO, Showtime, VH1, AMC, Lifetime, MGM, Food Network, Sony, WB, and others.

Quite simply, the biggest differentiator is that Hulu does not provide the breadth and depth around OVERALL TV content that Fancast presents to television fans. Through blogs and unique programming packages, Fancast trys to deliver an enriched entertainment experience, in addition to video streaming.

Have you had a chance to check out our ‘News’ page? It is one of my favorite sections. We are fortunate to have a renowned editorial team (formerly of People, US Weekly, Yahoo!, Entertainment Weekly) eager to report the latest and greatest scoop on all things television. Plus, Fancast is connecting users with their favorite television stars via live chats, Q&As, and a wide range of official blogs. We are working on fine-tuning this and welcome your feedback.

Lastly, we hear you on the video experience. Fancast developed a proprietary video player for enhanced computer viewing back in August. Videos on Fancast are natively displayed much larger than videos on other sites. Bit rates and picture quality are calculated to maximize the playback experience on a majority of computer devices. Our developers are consistently looking at ways to increase video quality and performance which it sounds like is your key issue. The current player takes into consideration the aspect ratio of each particular video, respecting the quality of widescreen 2.35:1 movies and HD television ratio 16:9 videos without use of black bars. The player will remember where users left off when coming back to a movie or TV episode that had not completed on one sitting. While we think this is cool, we are coming out with some new and improved features that I think you will like very much!

If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesistate to contact me directly. And if I can’t answer them I will put you in touch with someone who can. It is the only way we will get better – one day at a time. But seriously thanks again for taking the time to review Fancast.

18 03 2009
Bill Fenstermaker

Fancast also doesn’t buffer enough to always provide smooth playback. Takes a lot of tweaking to make it run semi-smoothly.

4 04 2009
Richard

All FanCast streaming that I get seems to be 512×288 resolution, which I think is the lowest bandwidth FLV format (about 480KBPS, non-H.264). There doesn’t seem to be any way to set a different preference. My DSL download speed clocks at 1.5MBPS or better when I test it.

I am able to get higher resolution streaming at other sites without problems.

23 03 2010
carl tacker

dear robin it seem to stop working after about five minutes,is there anything that i am doing wrong? a stutter and then a freeze and then CBS.

17 12 2010
Erica

As of December 2010 Fancast’s video quality and buffering is far superior to that of Hulu. While Hulu videos are constantly pausing and stuttering, Fancast’s videos are of consistently high quality with fewer commercials and minimal pauses. Fancast Rocks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: