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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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.

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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.

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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




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.





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