Friday, March 14, 2008

Hulu, Baby, Hulu

After several months of beta testing, Hulu opened to the public this week. What's Hulu? A joint venture between NBC and Fox, it's an attempt to take on the hegemony of YouTube and to do an end run around Apple TV, and it's definitely worth checking out. Hulu isn't a dowload site but instead streaming video, and its programming is free. The movies and shows do have commercials, but so far the longest commercial break I've endured has been 25 seconds, which I didn't find unreasonable. The site's features make the commercials worth bearing.

First, Hulu contains not only current programming from the Fox and NBC families, but also great classic shows from their libraries. Their ultimate plan is to offer content from any studio willing to participate, meaning that the offerings will continue to expand. Right now, you can watch the entire first two seasons of The Bob Newhart Show, full episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Chicago Hope, really just an eclectic and enjoyable assortment of classic television. You can also choose from around a hundred full-length movies, some of them even movies that you'd want to see.

Currently, you don't need to register to use the site, but I suspect that may change. Registration is free, and it has some advantages. Let's say you love The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and you've blown through all of Season One, which is all that's available this week. You can subscribe to the show, and as new episodes are posted Hulu places them in your queue, where they will be waiting for you to view at your leisure.

Hulu's player is user-friendly and while the stream isn't perfect, especially when viewed full-screen, it's good enough. If you have a newer computer you can even watch in HD. My favorite feature is that you can "pop out" the viewer from the site so that you can watch programming on part of your desktop while multitasking. There's little as satisfying as watching an episode of Nanny and the Professor while working on a municipal ordinance, after all. Hulu also makes it incredibly easy to edit a clip and either embed it on your website or blog or email it. Again, all of this is free.

If you're looking to waste some time this weekend, Hulu is a great place to start. I know I'll be spending some time with Lou Grant.


Anonymous said...

I tried to access the site at work and couldn't open anything. It must be the filters. Darn.

Anonymous said...

this hulu could be dangerous... very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

6 episodes of lipstick jungle later...