Veoh – Online TV and Video Service

5 03 2009

Casey Gotcher – Austin, Tx

What is Veoh?

veoh2

veoh11

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)

heroes5

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

heroes4

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.





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.

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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




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





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/





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





Cable TV – Do I really need it?

10 02 2009

By Casey Gotcher

With the economy heading in the wrong direction these days, many people are looking at ways they can tighten their belt.  I will not attempt to give advice on personal finance, as I seem to overspend myself, much to my wife’s chagrin.  What I can offer is a way to embrace some new advances in web and TV technology, to lower your monthly cash burn.  If you are like a lot of Americans, you probably spend upwards of $50 a month for Cable TV.  In Austin, we seem to pay even more than most communities, with Time Warner gigging us to the tune of ~$75 a month, by the time you get a couple of boxes, pay for PVR, and HD.  This is all before premium channels of course.  Add HBO, Showtime, etc. and you can end up over $100 a month. 

More and more of my friends and co-workers are getting tired of dealing with this cost, not to mention the associated taxes, and hassles the cable company puts you through.  They beginning to ask, “Can I live without cable?”  I have been looking into the answer to this question for some time now.  If you had asked me 2 years ago, I would have said no.  At least for most people.  Ask me again today, and I would say Yes!  Between over the air (OTA, ATSC), and online, you have some good options now that you didn’t have before.

The sites you are going to want to familiarize yourself with are Hulu.com, TV.com, video.aol.com, Fox.com, ABC.com, NBC.com, CBS.com, and Joost.com.  These all offer tons of free content for you to watch, on demand.  Many times, they even have HD options for better video quality.  Some other sites that aggregate from other sites are surfthechannel.com and findinternettv.com.  These will help you find what you are looking for, from a variety of sources, including those mentioned above.

In addition to the various websites that offer TV shows, you also have the Netflix option, should you choose to subscribe.  What this means, is if you have a compatible Netflix device, such as an XBOX 360, TiVo Series 3, Netflix player by Roku, or a select Blu-Ray player from Samsung or LG, you can watch several movies or TV shows on demand, as part of your monthly subscription.  Many Americans subscribe to Netflix any way, as their primary source of DVD rental.  This is added goodness at no additional cost.

Below I will outline many of the options and services, that might allow you to get rid of that cable bill, and still catch many of your favorite TV shows.

Here is a sampling of some popular TV shows, and some options on how you might watch them if you did not subscribe to Cable TV.

 

Lost – ATSC (OTA), Hulu.com, ABC.com (free) iTunes, and Amazon.com ($1.99)

Heroes – ATSC, Hulu.com, NBC.com, iTunes ($), Amazon.com ($)

The Office – ATSC, Hulu.com, NBC.com iTunes ($), Amazon.com ($)

24 – ATSC, Fox.com, Hulu.com (free) iTunes ($), Amazon.com ($)

American Idol – ATSC, (free), excerpts, recaps from Fox.com and American Idol.com

30 Rock – ATSC, Hulu.com, NBC.com (free), iTunes, Amazon.com (1.99 per episode)

Battlestar Galactica – Hulu.com, SciFi.com (free), iTunes ($)

 

In going through this exercise I found the vast majority of shows I check on had at least one free option for watching.  Most had additional premium options, if I actually wanted to purchase the show for archiving purposes.  American Idol had the most limited options.  If you are in an area where you can get ATSC (over the air HD), you are in good shape.  If not, you would be limited to what clips and excerpts they posted on the two associated websites.  All in all though, I was pretty pleased with the options I found.

One thing that you might be wondering about is DVR support.  How do I record my favorite TV shows?  If you purchased a PC in the last couple of years, you might be in luck.  For any of the network TV shows, you can use the Over The Air (ATSC or NTSC) broadcast signal to capture.  You will need a TV tuner card to enable this experience.  I recommend the ATI TV Wonder 650.  You can get it as an internal card for desktops, or as a external USB device for notebooks.  It offers fantastic quality at a pretty decent price.  You can either use their included Catalyst Media Center software, or Microsoft’s Media Center, if your PC supports it.

In addition to using the TV tuner as an option for DVR, you always have the option to buy the episode for $1.99 from Amazon or iTunes.  I have even seen software programs advertising the ability to capture Hulu content.  One such product is called Replay Media Catcher, from Applian Technologies.  I don’t claim to understand all of the legal issues or ramifications surrounding this.  That would be up to you to investigate.  I am just noting that I have seen these options out there.  Some people have also resorted to using P2P or Bittorrent services as a way to catch up on a TV show they missed.  I am not endorsing this a legal option, just noting that it has risen in popularity of late.  Of the options available to me, I prefer using the ATI TV tuner and Media Center for my own personal needs.  I get outstanding picture quality and don’t have to worry about the legalities of downloading shows from websites.  When I fail to remember to record the show, Hulu is my life line.  I use it frequently.

Hulu        TV.com

The other thing that I get asked about is sporting events.  NFL football is well represented with OTA (over the air options such as ATSC).  NBA basketball is somewhat supported via OTA, especially as the season gets into the second half.  Playoff Baseball is usually available over the air, but you may not have as many options for in-season games.  In the end, it depends on which sport you are into and how important it is for you to see every game.  For additional Online Sports Options, here is what I was able to find.

NBA – NBA League Pass online is available right now for $49 for the rest of this season

MLB – MLB.com – Basic package for $79, and Premium for $109 (HD, PIP, DVR)

NFL – NFL Game Rewind.  Weekly for 4.99 or $19.99 for season (no live option)

UFC – PPV’s on sport.yahoo.com/mma for $44, various content, clips on spiketv.com

ESPN – No games online.  Highlights, ESPN shows, and excerpts are at espn.com

NFL     NBA

ESPN       MLB

So as you can see, there are tons of options for current and rerun TV shows out there.  You may need to hook up an HTPC, Desktop or Notebook computer to a TV to take advantage of some of these, but the options exist.  If you have an LCD or Plasma TV, you will likely have the ability to hook up through a VGA port or HDMI port.  Most PC’s support VGA, although HDMI is not as common yet.  S-Video is your best option if you have an older Tube/CRT TV.  You may notice a little flickering with S-Video, but it works.  If you are in the market to buy a new laptop, I recommend an AMD Puma based notebook, such as the HP DV4 or DV5, as they come with an HDMI port.

Summary

In our area, we went through a period of time where our cable company lost the ability to display NBC content.  This forced us to look for alternatives, as we were right in the middle of Heroes and The Office seasons.  We found both OTA/ATSC and Hulu to be sufficient replacements.  What this also did was get us in the habit of watching these programs at time of our convenience, and not necessarily when they were originally aired, as Hulu (for example) wouldn’t have the show online until the following day.  Now we watch the shows when we get around to it. 

We also noticed that watching through Hulu, meant less commercials.  For sports, I watch through my Media Center, using ATSC and my ATI tuner.  I have also enjoyed using Media Center and the Fusion Media Explorer (from AMD) to watch live TV while I am surfing the web.  This is great if you have email to catch up on, but still want to watch something on TV.

All in all, I think most people could get by without a cable subscription these days, and not miss it all that much.  While not everything you have with cable will be available to you, I think most people will find the majority of the popular content is.

Resources

www.hulu.com The best website bar none, for online TV content

www.tv.com Another site with various TV shows online

www.joost.com Site with a lot of online TV content

www.nbc.com

www.cbs.com

www.abc.com

www.fox.com

http://video.aol.com Has lots to content.  Great source for older TV shows and reruns

www.surfthechannel.com  Aggregation service.  Linked to Hulu, DailyMotion, etc.

www.findinternettv.com  Aggregation service

http://www.antennaweb.org for locating and tuning your over the air channels.

          

I encourage you to sound off with your opinions and other observations.

Casey Gotcher 

www.twitter.com/caseygotcher

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