It’s been a while since we wrapped tin foil around an antenna to watch a football game. We also can’t remember the last time that we got off of the couch to change a channel, adjust the sound, or turn a gridiron from purple to green. Many of us at Rocket Pop Media, for that matter, have given up on cable altogether. What’s the point?
If you’re like us, and connected via computer, tablet, or smartphone, local news and world events are constantly updated with services and feeds like Alltop and Reddit. Every news outlet worth its weight in paper has a reliable site that updates minute by minute so we’re never far from the loop. Over 60% of viewers report watching most of their TV through a web site. Almost 70% are now using a tablet and a little over 40% are just using traditional TV.
When it comes to casual viewing, however, what are the options?
Netflix offers instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows that connect to your TV through devices like your Wii, Xbox, Playstation, and Apple TV. They initially offered a “movies by mail” service but streaming is their primary vehicle now. You can watch from your TV, computer, or handheld device. Most titles are pretty current but you may have to wait for newer releases. We cancelled our mail service with them because by the time the DVD arrived we had usually already seen the title.
Netflix is apparently in some hot water with subscribers, though. When we first started with them we paid about $8.00 per month for tons of viewing but they recently updated their pricing plan. Our 8 buck streaming + DVD service now costs $15.98. That’s an increase of around 60%. They had to lower their expectations to investors from 22 million subscribers to 21.8. That’s a lot of people pulling the plug. They also just announced a plan to split off their DVD service into a brand new entity called Qwikster. Perhaps they should have researched the Twitter world first?
Hulu is a pretty user-friendly site that is loaded with good content. The basic deal is free, and as Hulu is owned by NBC, Universal, Disney, and FOX, the list of titles is pretty robust. The downside is that the free version is only good for your computer. The shows are also kind of time sensitive. Not all seasons or episodes of all shows are available. They recently unveiled Hulu Plus. This is Hulu on steroids. Watch on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or through your gaming device or set top box (like an Xbox). It also makes Hi Def available for many titles, and opens the vaults so you can do some background and find out why Tommy lied to Janet about having drinks with Sheila on “Rescue Me.”
Vimeo is a favorite of ours (we got hooked watching Danny MacAskill videos). It has become the vehicle of choice for artists and is a great place to watch short movies, music videos, and other great content in HD with some really cool wide screen choices. Given the size of some of the files, download times can sometimes be frustrating.
YouTube is the old standard. While it has become synonymous with silly cat videos and people falling down it also has a pretty robust catalog of content. An agreement with MGM, CBS, and Lions Gate provided a great host of titles and with a subscription service you can rent titles just like iTunes.
Speaking of iTunes, when’s the last time that you browsed around the store? They’ve come a long way from the little music provider that could (and did!). In addition to the millions of songs in their catalog, the fantastic app store, and the downloads waiting for you, there is a fantastic selection of television, movie, concert video, and more. Search, surf, click, watch. In the words of Jobs, “It just works.”
Microsoft is getting ready to raise the bar, though. It has a beta service in the UK (Sky TV), France (Canal Plus), and Australia (FoxTel) that allows an Xbox user to watch a limited number of channels live. Users have access to sports and local programming through the Xbox without any additional hardware or software. Microsoft says that in addition to on-demand viewing they are working to secure partnerships with hundreds of providers to give you live video for news, sports, entertainment, and more. They plan on launching this soon here in the States. And just in time for Christmas? They recently demoed a version of the service with their Kinect attachment. The user said, “Xbox, Bing, The Office” and the Kinect pulled up all of the available episodes through Bing of “The Office” and loaded them onto the Xbox for potential viewing.
It’s good enough for us that we no longer get off of the couch or crumple tin foil to watch television. Is reaching for the remote going to go the way of the BetaMax?