Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

29 October 2007

'Hulu' May Be the Last Sound Joost Ever Hears

With virtually no load or lag time whatsoever, I'm currently watching the feature film Sideways.

And I didn't need to pay for it, or illegally download it, or sacrifice any precious computer space for it. When I'm done, I might watch Arrested Development, or Heroes, or -- get this! -- Doogie Howser, MD. My whole day is officially down the drain.

And while the occasional :15 or :30 ad cuts through my experience, I'm willing to deal with it. The content is worth the wait.

This is all part and parcel of Hulu beta, a valiant joint effort between News Corp. and NBC Universal.

I was hesitant to pin Joost a YouTube killer, but I'm fast inclined to dub Hulu, and similar business models (think the ABC and NBC online sitcom players), Joost killers. It's all the convenience of Joost with better shows, better ads and no software downloads.

For someone who doesn't own a television but loves the sitcom -- and also happens to own a good-sized monitor -- this is very exciting. Brand me a Hulu addict.

Hulu avails you to:
  • Popular shows and clips
  • Current shows and clips (the two are not necessarily mutually inclusive)
  • Netflix-worthy feature films
  • Somewhat appealing advertising (no ballpark franks here -- I'm mainly seeing Axe Vice spots)
  • (Apparent) universal platform friendliness. Unlike the Netflix player, Hulu doesn't seem to mind whether you operate on a Mac or a PC. (Not sure about Linux.)
  • An "embed" and "share" feature
  • A "lower lights" feature. If for some strange reason you don't want to watch your show in full-screen, you can opt to dim the website offerings (film information, related videos) above and below the player
  • Pretty sophisticated toggling. You can check out film information, full-screen the feature, pop it out of its window, rewind or fast-forward, or opt to embed it somewhere without losing your place or having to stream the whole thing again. Most of the time, whatever you're watching just pauses and waits for you to push play again
Granted, Hulu isn't perfect, either. Some cons:
  • I wouldn't call it laggage but every one in awhile the picture pauses. It probably has more to do with my RAM than Hulu, though. (I'm streaming a feature film while doing three other things at once, including writing this blog.)
  • The ad breaks could be a little more graceful. Hulu hasn't quite mastered the art of easing into advertising without disturbing its audience. Sometimes breaks occur while feature characters are mid-sentence. o_O And after each spot, there's this jarring moment of silence and black screen. It's a little WTF?!-ish.
  • No uploads onto iTunes, no episode-saving or downloading onto your hard drive
  • Films cut to accommodate time slots and content restrictions. A scene in which Maya exclaims, "You wanted to fuck me first!" has been tastefully dubbed to a more morose "You wanted to fool me first." And when Miles sneaks into the trucker's house while he's in bed with his wife? No idea what's going on there. You get loud rock music and a stray bedsheet. First-time watchers of Sideways will have no idea why a naked trucker chases him back to his car.
In any event, congrats to a couple of old-timers for stealing the limelight from the new kid on the block -- and actually improving the value proposition (for the most part). How often do you see that happen?

Check out Sideways, courtesy of Hulu:


Unknown said...

Hi Angela,

I am a developer working on the advertising platform at Hulu. I just wanted to say thanks for checking out our service!

Thanks also for the feedback on the ad breaks -- we know that there are a few videos where the breaks are off by a few seconds, and a few videos (especially some of the movies) where there's a black screen for several seconds right after the break. Getting these kinds of kinks out is one of the things we wanted to do during the beta period.

Thanks again for the feedback!


The Great Rashimoto said...

Whoa. U could get a job at hulu now! Who knew? Lol. Maybe I should write about websites. I'm gonna go home n write about hulu now and see if I get a job offer. Yessss!

Angela Natividad said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ilya!

Ra: Good luck!