Veoh – Online TV and Video Service

5 03 2009

Casey Gotcher – Austin, Tx

What is Veoh?

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Veoh is an online video service that aggregates content from several big TV networks and studio, as well as content sites like Hulu, and YouTube.  They also give you the ability to customize your entertainment experience, by allowing you to select “Interests,” “Favorites,” “Quick Lists,” and “Friend Lists.”  All of this makes it easy and interesting to create customized viewing lists.  I found it easy to use and worth while.  I have not activated the “Friends” feature yet, because I am not aware of any of my friends currently using this service, but I see what they are trying to do with it, and find it somewhat interesting.  Below are the basic elements of the Veoh service.

  • Veoh.com: Video portal, where you can access millions of videos from major content publishers like CBS, ABC, WB, MTV Networks, ESPN, Sony/BMG and Lions Gate.  In addition, you can access other video sites like YouTube and Hulu, as well as independent filmmakers and content producers.
  • Veoh Video Compass™: Is a browser add-on that instantly generates relevant online video recommendations as you visit popular sites on the web.
  • Veoh for iPhone: Veoh is also available on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Simply navigate to Veoh.com and they will automatically route you to the iPhone/iPod Touch web application.
  • Veoh Web Player: A lightweight, downloadable application that allows you to watch full-length videos directly in your browser, download videos from Veoh and other popular video sites for offline viewing, and organize your videos in a library to watch later.

Who can post content to Veoh?

Anyone can post on Veoh.  This includes average people and content creators alike.  They also offer publisher optimization tools, to allow content owners/publishers to build their audience.

How is Veoh different from Hulu?

Based on how I would categorize the two services, I tend to see Hulu as more of a content licensor, and Veoh is more of a content aggregator.  What I mean by this is, when you watch shows from Hulu, they tend to be streamed by Hulu, in a Hulu interface.  Some times this is the case with Veoh, especially with the independent and user generated content.  With regards to the Big Studio and Network TV content, you will often see it streaming from Hulu, in their interface (such as Heroes) or directly from the Network itself, as is the case with Lost (using ABC’s proprietary player).

This might make you ask, why do I need Veoh then, if they are getting most of the relevant content I care about from Hulu, YouTube, or the Networks themselves?  Very good question.  I am not sure I can convince you that you do need them.

What I will say, is they offer an overall service that some will find interesting.  In addition to showing you an episode of “The Office,” they can also show you related content, which was either uploaded to their site, or possibly YouTube.  This could be outtakes, user generated videos, or something else.

They also offer music videos, which some might find useful.  In some cases they give you the ability to download content, although don’t expect to download an episode of Heroes.

I must admit I really like the “Related Content” they show, and the “Friends” social aspect of what they are doing.   I would also have to say there is one deal breaker for me, in deciding if I could foresee this replacing Hulu for me personally.  For me it comes down to video quality, and Hulu (hulu.com) wins here.

This is the same thing I pointed out as being the Achilles heal for other great sites such as FanCast (www.fancast.com).  Hulu allows me to select multiple quality levels.  These other sites do not.  With Hulu, I can chose to watch at 360p (default), 480p (DVD), and sometimes even  720p (HD).  With Veoh, and all of the other sites, you are limited to 360p as the only option.  If you are watching your TV show on an iPhone, no problem at all.  If you are watching on a 720p or 1080p TV or PC display, you will generally not be happy.

I have tried to do a screen capture of Heroes from both Veoh (360p) and Hulu (480p).  Both have the Hulu UI as you will see, but the quality is just better on the Hulu/480p showing.  This may not be obvious to you from the screenshots, given their far reduced size, but it is very obvious on a large high resolution display.  It isn’t that the 360p isn’t watchable, because it is.  What I am saying is why chose 360p if you can go over to Hulu.com and get the same TV show at 480p?

Show streamed directly from Hulu.com (DVD quality 480p)

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Show stream through from Veoh.com (360p stream from Hulu)

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Pros for Veoh:

  • Much larger selection of content than Hulu.
  • Social Aspects, Favorites, and My Interests, is very nice and convenient
  • Related Topic results.  Watch Heroes, and be presented with related content.
  • iPhone, iPod touch player

Cons for Veoh:

  • Video Quality and options.  360p only doesn’t cut it unless you are on a handheld.
  • Veoh’s UI is clean and easy to use, but Hulu’s is still better
  • Hulu offers useful User Reviews, and Discussion Boards, attached right to the shows themselves.

Summary

In the end, I say decide for yourself.  If the features I laid out supporting Veoh are enticing enough, give it a try.  If however, you don’t care about the Related Content results, YouTube integration or some of their social aspects, stick with Hulu.  The UI is a little cleaner, and the video quality is better.

Who’s behind Veoh? (from veoh.com)

Veoh Networks was founded in late 2004 by Dmitry Shapiro. With offices in San Diego and Los Angeles, CA, Veoh is home to a diverse team of entertainment industry insiders, outsiders, technologists and creative types who share a common vision: To make Veoh the most valuable video experience on the Internet. And like any good business, we have our fair share of suits — Veoh is privately held and backed by leading technology and media investors, including Shelter Capital, Spark Capital, Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company, Goldman Sachs, Time Warner Inc., Intel Capital, Adobe Systems Incorporated, Gordon Crawford, Tom Freston’s Firefly3 LLC and Jonathan Dolgen.

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