Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Death of Cable TV: What’s Next for Hulu?

The Death of Cable TV: What’s Next for Hulu?

Back in March, South Park Studios announced that all the episodes of South Park would be made available for free. A month later I bought a 32” Vizio LCD HDTV Set with an RGB (a.k.a VGA) input (Refurbished for less than $500) that would allow me to watch web video “TV style.” Just recently, Apple announced that HBO’s shows would be available piecemeal over at iTunes (what? No Curb just yet?).

These events collectively spoke to me…and they said cancel your Cable TV subscription.

There is a dirty little secret in TV land. The gateway to cable TV for many was (is?) that reception (including here in Brooklyn New York) of regular rabbit ears TV is a winter wonderland. Snowflakes are everywhere and some channels have no reception at all. That’s where basic cable becomes a necessity and was used as gateway to upsell standard and premium channels.

So I fired up my Vizio, grabbed a simple coax cable to use as a makeshift antenna and auto scanned the dials. Click, snow; Click,…. holy cow, crystal clear HDTV and it’s free. Free HDTV means that if I cancel cable I won’t lose the “power of now.” The power of instant, live Television has been taken for granted but not forgotten in the age of Tivo. I would argue that most of us would feel a loss of power by losing the (cap)ability of the Power of Now TV. We would feel this loss (probably subconsciously) even in DVR in demand society. But free HDTV coming across the board and it’s “sooner than you think.” And now is the time to cancel your cable TV.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, if Hulu also embraces the concept of the power of now it will accelerate viewer exodus from cable TV. Perhaps there is not enough “in the Box” thinking going on here and a little too much “me too” I can be an Interwebs content provider. There are allot of couch potatoes out there who are too lazy to search for TV programming on the web (yes it is a sad state of affairs) and at the other end of the spectrum we have the armchair critic. And this is where we will find what’s next for Hulu and company. Instead of just static content waiting to be found there will be genre channels streaming “live” (including rerurns) with content continually voted on “DIGG style” by viewers like you and me. Just click the stream and get your nonstop now content. Think or don’t think, but it’s there and it’s happening now and it’s empowering. Now some of you might think that it would get awful boring always having the same content running because only our favorite episodes will be streaming. But new content and even plot and story line and news coverage can be voted on. Choose (y)our own adventure. What’s more, don’t we all like to sit down and stare at a roadside accident now and then?

According to Alexa, the 86th most popular website on the entire internet is not Hulu but Veoh. Veoh doesn’t create it’s own content and some (a lot?) of it’s content *is* linked to Hulu, the 1,086th most popular website (yes, the 1,086th, exactly 1,000 behind). There is also content from AOL’s In2TV which includes cult classics such as Max Headroom and Freddy’s Nightmares (which is more similar to The Twilight Zone than Nightmare on Elm Street). Well I suppose Hulu doesn’t really create it’s own but is a collaboration of efforts but really this is semantics. I’m not sure why Veoh doesn’t seem to link to content from Adult Swim which has great shows such as Assy McGee and Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job! Other portals worth namedropping here are sidereel, fancast, and Joost.

I’m not sure if we will ever again see an event (phenomenon?) such as CBS’ the final episode of M*A*S*H on 2/28/1993 which had 50,150,000 households as viewers. We can probably thank our DVRs for that. But can someone tell me, during the final episode of M*A*S*H did TV stations have central, western, eastern time (etc.) i.e. a “staggered” airing…or was everyone watching at the same time?

Barrel Roll!

1 comment:

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