Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Umm Hello Hulu, Are You There?

Ok, I've written about a couple TV shows and sadly, they are my most read posts (why is that?).  Anyway, I really don't watch much TV, unless I'm binging, which only happens on occasion and is very much not happening now.  Now, I know Hulu is popular, there's been many a time when I had to wait to watch a show because I just couldn't get a good connection.  Lots of people I know depend completely on Hulu or Netflix for all of their TV, especially in this small town where there are virtually no airwaves broadcasts (well we get PBS).

We are too cheap for Netflix (really I don't watch that much TV!  I don't want to pay $10 a month for stuff I don't use!  It's still cheaper for me to go to the video store.)  So we depend on Hulu to connect with the TV shows we enjoy.  Now recently Hulu added a pay feature, kinda neat really.  They were increasing their back catalog of episodes and for $8 a month I could avoid going to the video store when my next binge hits.  Unfortunately, the shows from Scifi (sorry I refuse to call it Syfy) were restricted to the pay service entirely, well darn there goes 3 shows I watch, but no big deal, two of them are summer shows anyway.  Besides I still have three shows I watch (two from ABC and one from Fox - even though I really shouldn't watch Fox because they are evil) that I didn't think would be affected, after all, if we had airwaves broadcasts we'd get the shows for free.

Now, I'm sure Hulu has to work out what it needs to do for itself, but this is starting to stink, like when SciFi stopped carrying SciFi and the History Channel stopped broadcasting History shows.  But after one of the shows I'd been waiting for to come back.  One that is broadcast over the airwaves finally came back, well Hulu doesn't have it anymore?  Crazy, I watched the whole last season on Hulu.  So now there are only two shows I still watch on Hulu.  I was debating buying a month or two of service next summer, but heh, probably won't now.

Many years ago when my husband and I were newlyweds we thought about getting cable TV.  I mean sure, who doesn't.  Neither of us had had it at our apartments, but with college, and studying, and going out, well we just didn't having time to bother with the expense, plus we were both poor college students working our way through school (which was very much reflected in my grades as I missed lots of group stuff to be at work.)  Anyway, I distinctly remember us talking about the channels we wanted to have.  It turned out that basic cable would give us the networks and a bunch of channels we'd never really watched when we had free cable, but the three channels we really wanted (if I remember right, History, SciFi, and Comedy Central) were all on the upper terres that would mean a lot of money.  It didn't matter if it was cable or satelite and rather quickly the whole idea was dropped.  We were both gamers and loved heading out into town, catching a movie, and quite frankly we have a large video and video game collection, we didn't need that much TV.

So we started our life of not "having" TV.  Sure we own a TV set, but we don't pay for TV service.  Really, aside from about 20 pounds that we don't need and a few episodes of absolute cluelessness when talking to people who live in front of their TV set, we haven't missed much.  When there was something we really wanted to see, we'd go watch with friends, like for Superbowl (when you're childless it's easy to get invited to a Superbowl party), we even had a couple friends that would have us over for SciFi Friday - I mean it was a sweet deal!  Geek socializing and we got all the shows we really felt like we were missing.  Ok, so we missed Firefly too, but we caught it as soon as it hit DVD.

More and more shows started coming to DVD and we decided it was cheaper to buy those shows we wanted to see than pay for TV, so we didn't see a reason to change the system.  Yes, I do own quite a bit of SciFi on DVD.  Some of our friends did the same thing so we swapped disks for shows we weren't sure we wanted to buy, but wanted to see.  It all works well.  Then Netflix and Hulu showed up.  Now I'm not a media pirate, but I know several.  I knew a guy who worked at an ISP with me who had a competitors ISP hooked up to one computer just so he could download TV and songs without getting in trouble at work.  However, if there is a legit source for media and all I have to do is sit through an ad or two, I'm going to take it over pirating.  I am, however; not going to pay more than the per episode cost on a DVD to watch a crappy download with ads and buffer problems that I don't even get to keep.  I do have my limits on what I will do for legit.  I will go without first!

So anyway, I was very excited with these new legit ways to get media.  I know Netflix was first and we really meant to get Netflix, but it came at a bad time for us and we just couldn't add any new expense no matter how small.  I mean we didn't even have cell phones yet.  It was a huge deal to add just $10 a month to our bills.  Not that it's much better now, but it just wasn't going to happen.  So we still have yet to do Netflix, although I'm sure it'd be fun, I honestly don't know what we'd do with that much TV, it'd probably be highly detrimental to our way of life, honestly, especially since I work at home.

That brings us to Hulu!  I think I was in junior high the last time I was so current on TV programs.  I mean if we'd had Tivo when I was in high school, but we didn't, so junior high.  We still don't watch a bunch, but it's kinda nice to be able to sit down a couple nights a week, after the kids are in bed, and watch a show or two with my husband on our TV.  Yes, we have a computer hooked up to our TV and have had since 2002, it's really not a big deal.  We started watching TV we'd totally miss out on.  Well, I guess I skipped a step because before Hulu we started watching shows on the network websites, but they are a total pain in the butt and not nearly as convenient or high quality as Hulu's video software.  Plus closed captioning is hit or miss and that's vital for my husband watching the show.  Sure we have to wait delays, for the SciFi shows we had to wait over a week (more if you wanted the closed captioning - apparently deaf and hearing-impaired people have to wait longer for their TV or go without even more, must not be as worthwhile as other "viewers".)

It's not as nice as just turning on the computer and having the file there, but not as bad as waiting for it to come out on DVD again (and come off the new release shelf - still waiting for Season 5 of Bones that way). I actually don't mind the Hulu ads either.  I mean their repetitive and lame, but at least there's only one at a time and sometimes you get to feel like you won the lotto with one long ad and none following for a whole episode!  Just last year I was exclaiming how much I love Hulu!  I really do!  Hulu is my friend.  We got started watching some of the back catalog late at night.  We've watched tons of shows we wouldn't have otherwise watched (Bones, Castle, V, Eureka, Warehouse 13, probably would have rented Sanctuary, maybe even Dollhouse).  However, if the content keeps decreasing, and I have to put up with the crappy ABC and SciFi players, I may just close my Hulu tab (yes I keep a tab open, when I connect to the TV with my laptop I can't reach the keyboard and the TV computer has a video card issue.)  I mean I feel like I hardly have anything to watch anymore and I'm not going to pay $8 a month for 3 episodes of Sanctuary, I can wait for the DVD.

1 comment:

  1. I love hulu plus but even they are cutting the shows they carry due to network restrictions. I want the networks to realize that we are a portable society and need to watch things conveniently. Great post!


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