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

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Secondrun.tv Beta 2 is posted

18 02 2009

I am still having issues getting it to go into full screen mode.  I will say this guy does good work from a graphical UI perspective.  Very nice looking so far.  I will keep testing new builds as they roll out, and let you know how it is coming along.  At this point, it is a ways off, but I am encouraged on where Jason is headed with the app.

http://www.secondrun.tv/default.asp?action=drawpage&pageid=22

secondruntv1

secondruntv2





SecondRun.TV – Bring Hulu and other Online TV into Media Center

17 02 2009

I am planning to do a review of Secondrun.tv as soon as the product becomes a little more stable. Right now Jason is working through some bugs. What I can tell you is he has received over 4000 downloads since he posted the first beta builds on Friday. Obviously this points to quite a bit of  interest in getting Hulu and other online TV into the Media Center UI.

The next step will be figuring out how to real-time transcode this flash based content to something such as WMV, so you can watch it on the XBOX360.

http://www.secondrun.tv/





TV on Twitter

17 02 2009

This is a pretty cool idea, I think.  A searchable database for online TV stations.  Give it a look, or a follow if you are a Twitterer.

“There are more than 2,200 broadcast TV stations in the United States.

There are 201 stations in the TV On Twitter database.”

http://www.tvontwitter.com/





Great read about online TV options from Media Enthusiast Jay Taylor

16 02 2009

http://blogs.amd.com/home/archive/2009/02/09/give-me-online-video.aspx 

Well, today I thought I would share info and links to some of the content that exists online. Some content is in high definition (HD)* while some is standard definition (SD) and in many cases, you can find full length episodes of your favorite TV content. You can even find older syndicated shows that may not be available from broadcasters in your area or on any station today. Whether you are looking for reruns of Star Trek from the 1960’s, cop shows from the 1980’s (TJ Hooker anyone?) or (sticking with the William Shatner theme) the latest episode of Boston Legal, you can probably find just about all of it online.

Read More here..http://blogs.amd.com/home/archive/2009/02/09/give-me-online-video.aspx





14 02 2009

In early 2007, Fox and NBC Universal announced plans for a joint startup intended to shake up the way people watch TV shows online. To which the industry scoffed, “Yeah, right.”

Hulu Popup-Icon
YouTube had already established itself as the Web’s video clearinghouse, and ABC, the first network to rebroadcast TV episodes free on its site, wasn’t participating. “I think there’s a snarky desire to say, ‘This is big dumb media and this is a big dumb joint venture,’ ” Peter Chernin, president and COO of Fox’s parent company, News Corp., told The New York Times.

Today, that much-derided joint venture, now known as Hulu, is looking bigger and smarter all the time. By adhering to a few core design principles and exploiting its unusual independence, the company created what CEO Jason Kilar describes as a “high-quality, elegant, and crazy-easy-to-use” site. That almost does it justice — it’s also crazy fun. Hulu features not only Fox and NBC fare but also TV shows and movies from more than 120 sources, from the Food Network to Paramount Pictures. You can watch the most recent episodes of 24 or classics that find a second life on Hulu (if you’re looking for The Dick Van Dyke Show… ).

Last April, its first full month of operation, Los Angeles — based Hulu delivered 63 million video streams, catapulting it into the top 10 video sites. Since then, it has continued to outpace the competition. In October, buoyed by Saturday Night Live‘s hugely popular presidential-election sketches, the number of unique visitors doubled, to 24 million, and streams spiked to 235 million.

Through their unlikely collaboration, Fox and NBC have created more than a well-conceived entertainment portal. At a time when the auto, banking, and newspaper industries, among others, are facing problems too complex for any one company to solve, Hulu is a model of what’s possible when rivals work together and embrace disruptive technology. YouTube, with 5.4 billion monthly streams, may still dominate in overall traffic, but for an experience that comes closest to that of watching TV, Hulu “has set the gold standard,” says Will Richmond, president of research firm Broadband Directions. “It has optimized all of the ingredients — quality of video, navigation, controls.” (And did we mention Hulu has every episode of the canceled-before-its-time comedy Arrested Development?)

According to Kilar, 37, who previously launched and oversaw Amazon’s video and DVD business, the key to Hulu’s success is its freedom to operate essentially as a stand-alone company, largely safe from the turf battles that plague most joint ventures. Before taking the job in 2007, Kilar outlined his unconventional vision for News Corp.’s Chernin and Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC Universal. “I told them, ‘I don’t think you’ll be seeing the name Fox or NBC on the site hardly at all,'” says Kilar. “Hulu is about the shows, not the networks. The shows are the brands that users care about.” Chernin and Zucker, who had told Kilar they wanted an outsider and Internet veteran in charge, signed off.

Kilar hired Eric Feng, an ex-Microsoft engineer who’d just started an online video tech company, as chief technology officer. All of 28 at the time, Feng was eager to create a site that eliminated the fitful playback and tinny audio that have plagued Web video. His team started writing code on August 6, 2007; they launched a beta version on October 29.

Today, instead of a “postage-stamp-size screen with grainy video,” as Kilar puts it (without naming YouTube), Hulu features a larger screen and high-resolution video designed to showcase the content the networks and studios have spent millions of dollars writing, filming, and editing. There’s no player to download — the video plays instantly in a Web browser. And the site is clutter-free, avoiding what Kilar calls the “Tokyo at night” look of sites packed with blinking links.

For quality control, Hulu relies on a small army of film students and graduates from UCLA to screen every minute of video before it goes live. They recognize glitches such as a frame dropped during the encoding process — or “an explosion that doesn’t sound like an explosion,” Feng says. They also produce brief clips, slicing and dicing sitcoms and dramas into Web-friendly, appetizer-size highlights.

Hulu is free to users, generating revenue through ads. Instead of the eight minutes of commercials that are standard for a half-hour TV show, Hulu inserts only two minutes. Some experts say that as the site’s popularity grows, the networks will inevitably push to increase revenue by tweaking that ratio. “It’ll be too tempting to slip in more ads,” analyst Richmond says. “But you don’t want to kill the golden goose.”

Kilar insists that Hulu will remain “obsessed with users.” One barometer: Maureen Kilar, his sixtysomething mother. “She talks a big game, but she’s not technical,” he says. Yet when she unearthed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the Hulu catalog, the world got another convert to watching TV without a TV. There’s plenty of time for her to discover Arrested Development.





Cable Companies losing customers to OTA and Online TV options (from Fox News)

11 02 2009

I thought I would post this, as it directly relates to my last post about why people should consider ditching the cable subscription in favor of free OTA and online sources.

Casey

Cable Companies Panic as Viewers Shift to Internet

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

PHILADELPHIA  — 

Porter McConnell gave up on pay TV last summer after noticing that monthly rates kept creeping up.

 Now with no satellite or cable TV, she watches her trusty old TV set with an antenna or she goes online to catch her favorite programs. Once in a while, she buys shows from Apple Inc.’s iTunes service.

McConnell also upped her subscription to Netflix Inc.’s movies-by-mail service so she gets two DVDs at a time instead of one, for $15 a month.

“Part of it is, I’ve got to economize,” said the 30-year-old Washington, D.C., resident who works at a nonprofit.

McConnell is the kind of consumer who makes cable and satellite TV operators lose sleep. While a weak economy invariably makes people pinch pennies, this is the first time that viewing shows online has become a viable competitor to pay TV, making cutting the cord easier.

Cable operators are starting to notice. Glenn Britt, chief executive of Time Warner Cable Inc., voiced his concern Wednesday in a quarterly earnings discussion with analysts.

“We are starting to see the beginning of cord cutting,” he said. “People will choose not to buy subscription video if they can get the same stuff for free.”

It’s tough to pin down how many people actually have given up cable — most of the evidence remains anecdotal — and which customers moved to a competitor.

Still, Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable operator, lost 119,000 basic video customers in the fourth quarter, even after excluding subscribers it gave up from the sale of some cable systems.

The company also posted slower growth in new digital cable TV, Internet and phone subscribers.

More details will emerge as other cable and satellite TV operators report earnings in the coming weeks.

This is not to say that the cable business is in trouble. It’s a mixed picture in this economy. While there will be some people who will completely give up their pay TV service, many folks will keep the subscription but cut back instead on going out to the movies. They also might give up a movie channel or two and buy fewer pay-per-view shows.

But pay TV providers are right to be alarmed. Not only has a flood of TV shows and movies become available online, but the video quality has gotten better.

Netflix is expanding its service that lets subscribers stream movies and shows from the Internet at no additional cost. And more and more people have home broadband — 57 percent of American adults, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Throw in the worst economic slowdown in nearly a century and people question whether they still want to pay for cable or satellite.

As of January 2008, the average monthly home cable bill was $84.59, up 21 percent from two years earlier, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

“You’ve got these factors aligning at the right time,” said Bobby Tulsiani, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “This time there is a real, viable alternative” to cable.

To be sure, there can be drawbacks to canceling pay TV. Watching shows on a PC still isn’t as comfortable as watching TV while relaxing on a couch. The quality of Internet video, while improving, still isn’t as good, especially for live events, in which video and audio might not be in sync.

While some game consoles, Blu-ray players and other devices enable video to be seamlessly delivered over the Internet to a TV, hooking up a computer to the TV to watch the full gamut of online shows on a big screen can take some technical savvy.

These downsides mattered to 36-year-old Peter Tierney, who lost his job two weeks ago as a Web producer for a New York advertising agency.

With a wife and son to support, he called Time Warner Cable to cut his premium Japanese channel and whittle down his $180 monthly cable bill.

Tierney ended up saving nearly $70 a month, after Time Warner Cable gave him discounts good for two years and he canceled the premium channel.

“It’s hard for two people to watch shows on the computer at the same time,” Tierney said. “I can’t sit on the comfy couch. I have to go to my desk and sit on my chair.”

Indeed, a Forrester survey to be released in about a month found out that most people aren’t planning to ditch their cable subscriptions soon.

But the Internet is coming on strong as a new way to watch video, especially for the younger set.

Tulsiani noted that the success of Hulu.com, a joint venture NBC and Fox that officially launched last year and offers free TV shows and movies, has attracted other entrants.

Perhaps to hedge its bets, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. — the nation’s largest cable company — runs a similar site called Fancast.com, while full TV episodes now are available through the networks’ Web sites.

YouTube made deals last November to carry full shows in an alliance with CBS and MGM.

This is what worries Time Warner Cable’s Britt. He warned that if cable networks keep moving content online for free, it would hurt them and cable operators like Time Warner. With fewer subscribers, cable operators will pay less money to programmers for the right to air their content.

But the networks’ hands largely are tied. People are illegally swapping files of shows and movies over the Internet already, so the networks might as well make money off it with advertising and take some control over their content.

While cable and satellite TV companies worry about any consumers cutting service, it would appear younger people pose the biggest threat, given the wide generation gap in online TV viewing.

About 72 percent of people ages 18 to 29 have watched a video online, compared to 34 percent of people ages 50 to 64, according to Pew.

Consider Thomas Senger and his family.

The 23-year-old security officer decided not to get cable recently after moving out of his parents’ house and into his own apartment in Bayonne, N.J. He doesn’t watch that much TV anyway and prefers playing video games or viewing DVDs with friends.

“It’s pointless to pay for something that I watch over the Internet,” he said.

But that’s not an option for his grandparents, who don’t know how to use a computer and watch a lot of TV. His parents are more savvy about the Internet, but not enough to change their viewing habits.

Senger said his mother likes to watch the QVC shopping channel live. She and his stepfather also watch TV while eating dinner — a tough proposition over a PC screen.

“Both of them will still need TV,” Senger said.