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Reminiscing about The Future of Online TV & Videos

How will we watch TV/Videos in the future?

These past several weeks I have ventured into the bright and luminescent world of online television and videos.

Surely names like Hulu, Youtube, Netflix, and now its newest opponent FloTV are worthy of mentioning.  I’ve done a little more researching than watching – and nevertheless, it’s been a little difficult, to say the least, as our class was deprived of using anything “Google” related as an experiment starting out this journey for Week One by our professor (Mushon).  So using YouTube was out of the question for the first week.

Therefore, I harnessed my energy and decided to research the phenomenon called “Hulu” and the environment of online media such as television and videos across alternative platforms on the computers or hand-held mobile devices…

Week Two consisted of further delving into the unfamiliar terrain of Hulu and one of its biggest, baddest competitors – YouTube (the shackles have been lifted-hooray!).  I decided to examine the online video landscape by comparing and contrasting Hulu & YouTube as two juxtaposing forces competing in a battle for the title of online media champion.  Some of the biggest proponents that fueled the debate/fight between the two contenders where as such:

Is it time to throw away that television?

  • YouTube is available internationally whereas Hulu is (as of now) restricted to the US.
  • Hulu offers a selection of high-quality videos of television videos and trailers from backing companies such as NBC, Comcast, and ABC whereas YouTube has a ‘gagillion’ lower quality videos ranging from self-produced to illegal uploads.
  • Similarly, paid advertisements are common in Hulu at the start of each video and can also be found embedded in YouTube videos.
  • They are both free.  However, Hulu is considering a premium payment plan that’s almost similar to the model used by the NYTimes online which could affect its users.  Youtube has always been free.

Right now, there’s also a lot to FURTHER consider like the NBC & Comcast merger that’s underway which would affect consumers in a negative way; streaming Hulu from your desktop through something like your BluRay Player, Boxee, or streaming Youtube through AppleTV creates an entire new way of watching TV through your computer ; YouTube’s future possibility with teaming up with CBS and Hollywood to offer longer streaming videos/movies; and even the big question of >> how does one prefer to watch TV/Videos/Movies: mobile device, phone, computer, or television???

Youtube KO's Hulu in 4th Round.  Will there be a rematch?

I’ve tried to say current with all the amazing sights I’ve seen along the way and even the newer attractions/considerations like FloTV and the iPad.  Yet, these are things that have steered my journey off course and have lead me to peer down the horizon of digital media in new directions.

So I would like to close with some food for thought about two things that could have, or better said, already have had vital impacts on this terrain of digital media (TV, videos, and movies).  Let’s consider them for a moment>>

FloTV really exploded on the scene utilizing the Superbowl as its stage to announce that it has arrived and that its going to make a splash in the online fight for television.  I mean, talk about a revolution, it’s not like portable television devices are something new but FloTV has really made a statement… or has it?    According to Wired,

But it’s a difficult sell. U.S. consumers so far have failed to jump on the mobile TV idea, even though it’s been around for years. Just about 1 percent of mobile users in the U.S. watch mobile TV.”

You can either buy the handheld device and/or subscribe through Verizon or AT&T to watch it through supported phones.  It’s been compared to as the “Kindle for Television”.  Taken from Wired, “We are not trying to make a choice for the consumer, we are trying to give them choices,” says Alice Kim, senior vice president of strategy & corporate development for FloTV. What this means, is that you can take watching television with you anywhere, anytime.  For more information, check out this link with product information and videos.  What’s interesting is that this seems to further personalize and customize the culture of community and social watching of the television into your own independent function, I mean, unless you want to sit there and share your $250 TV and paid subscription with a “freeloading friend”… But hey, that’s up to you and whoever’s paying the bill :)

Lastly, I will briefly mention the recent development of Apple’  iPad.  Right now, the iPad’s biggest criticism is that it doesn’t support Adobe’s Flash support.  This is pertinent because sites like Hulu and a large majority of internet video runs off of Flash.  It would be ideal if Hulu would run on something like the iPad.  More so, Hulu is in the process of developing an alternative version of HTML5 supported videos to circumvent the already Flash supported videos.  The combination of the iPad and Hulu could help Hulu to continue to flourish in the online video environment.

Online media and especially “how” people watch television and videos continue to change .  I believe that online media is becoming more personalized and customized to meet the individual needs and desires of the consumer.  What also fuels this environment is the economical choice and circumvention to view these media for free or for a price.  Things such as Tivo or DVR (Digital Video Recording) seem like a waste of cash when one can merely access these shows online anytime or anywhere with something like Hulu or Youtube.  As of now, sites like Hulu* and Youtube are free, whereas FloTV and Netflix require a paid subscription.  Furthermore, this choice of free viewing does not take into account the illegal ways to bypass copyright by downloading and viewing videos through a Bittorrent or other ways.  This calls into question the entire paradigm and the power of the Internet – its empowering public sphere that helps the individual to negotiate the hegemonic struggle against the corporations, their politics, their economics, and their stifling copyright laws that they wield in order to control the markets of production and consumption.  This dilemma calls into question the very nature of online media:

QUESTIONS:

-Are you willing to look for alternative measures and means to watching and consuming media e.g. , Hulu, AppleTV, Bittorrent, FloTV, etc?  How would you characterize the way in which you watch movies or TV?  Who do you think will dominate the battle for the online media market and how would you predict yourself adapting to the new ways of viewing media in the future?

How do you prefer to watch TV/Videos???

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2 Comments

  1. mushon 10:17, Feb 14th, 10

    Interesting.
    You definitely provided an extensive overview of your research and the leading players in the field, each using it’s own strategy. I must say I would’ve loved to learn more about the parameters that go into the debate (scale, delivery, distribution, monitization, control, platform, quality…) than this rehashing of the whole research process. This is an interesting final post but I would would have liked it to have more emphasis on analysis. I think this is something you can still do here in the comments: What are the factors that go into evaluating the different new TV models and how do they map to the strengths and weaknesses of the different players?

  2. Ryan 18:56, Feb 15th, 10

    Point taken. Obviously companies that own Hulu, FloTV, AppleTV, and others control the marketing and distribution of such products. Hulu is owned by NBC, ABC, Disney and potentially Comcast in the future. Youtube is owned by Google. FloTV has deals with Verizon and AT&T. But in terms of the strengths and weakness of each, that is left to the consumer as well as the market research that would go into developing something along these lines.
    For example, the iPhone is a great way to watch youtube videos. However, the videos are not as high quality as Hulu’s. Yet, Youtube is international and has a zillion different videos ranging from self produced to different segments of an entire film.
    Hulu uses Flash where apple products like the iPhone and iPad do not support flash. The majority of internet videos follow a flash format. However, Apple does not like Flash. Google owns Youtube. Apple uses Youtube. Currently, Google is currently in the process of negotiating with CBS and other Hollywood movie Companies to get better, longer streaming videos on Youtube…SO this would mean a viable competitor to Hulu.
    Hulu is free, it might not be in the future. Could this affect users? Of course – it just depends on if they are willing to pay Hulu or their cable subscribers.

    Some of the factors that would be used to evaluate the different TV models are price, quality, availability, accessibility, mobility, and how easy is it to use.

    Something like FloTV’s strengths are the accessibility and mobility of the television. However, the weaknesses are the small, personalized device for long term viewing and the subscription fees that go with it. Apple has enjoyed such an immense success with its iPod and iPhone that by introducing the iPad to its long arsenal of successful products only further opens the doors to new possibilities in the realm of accessing television and videos on something like the iPad. I believe that FloTV is an admirable product, but could be better if you could connect it from your phone to a television or computer to view on larger formats. The iPad has the potential to connect to AppleTV and even the television possibly thus creating a synergistic interface of different formats using the phone, computer, and television all in one when needed. The intermixing of media and through different mobile products is where the future continues to head, especially in the sense of mobile devices that do a variety of different things.