Just read an article in The Boston Globe about Hulu, internet TV and our “multitasking culture”. In the piece, Matthew Gilbert muses about streaming TV shows and how it’s so different from watching shows on a regular television set. Amongst his complaints are that you can’t watch internet TV from the comfort of your couch and the computer is an anti-social work device, not well suited for TV watching. Clearly, Mr. Gilbert has never heard of external computer monitors and obviously does not realize that many us now have large widescreen monitors that are capable of displaying a higher resolution than even the baddest of HDTV sets.
Living on the Edge
As an internet TV evangelist and huge fan of Hulu I had to set Mr. Gilbert straight. Yes, as you’ve likely realized I own a 24″ SoYo widescreen monitor that I picked up for less than $300 at Office Max. Since scooping up this relatively decent monitor at bargain basement prices, I’ve tossed my television set and view 95% of my television via my computer. On my couch. With an Apple remote in hand (tied into Sofa Control) for maximum sloth effect.
According to Mr. Gilbert, I’m living on the edge of technology, blazing a path through the streaming TV frontier.
We live in that in-between moment when our TV screens and computer screens are still in separate locations – literally and psychologically. Maybe you, like me, have a tech-savvy friend who has already connected his HDTV to his laptop and streams TV shows from the couch; but most of us still have designated screens. That means the people who are watching TV online are doing so at their desks, or in “desk mode.”
Yes, it is immensely difficult to connect a laptop to an external monitor (HDTV included). Even more difficult, is googling for “hook up laptop to HDTV“. That simple search drained my technological prowess so much I may not be able to finish this post.
The Future is the Now
The crux of Gilbert’s article is that top quality shows deserve to be watched in our living rooms on traditional television sets. Let’s put aside that all of that is already possible via streaming video from the internet. He states that when we watch shows on our television sets we give more of our attention to the show, which the show’s creators deserve. Well, I actually devote more attention to a show when watching the online version.
- Less commercials.
- Laptop is devoted to video, can’t browse and watch.
- Can pause easily.
- Can share easily.
An obvious but when there’s less commercials the show gets more of my attention span.
Since my laptop is hooked up to my external monitor, I can’t have it sitting in my lap browsing the web while watching TV (though, there is the iPhone, but it interferes with my computer speakers so no deal).
If the phone rings or I need to go use the bathroom or get the urge for a sandwich, I can easily pause my internet TV, take care of business and come back and hop right back in. Sure there’s DVR but with internet TV this capability is built-in.
If I’m watching a great show, I don’t need to call my buddies and tell them that they have got to watch this episode. Instead, I can finish watching and then send them a link afterwards.
I don’t waste my time looking for new shows online. Instead I let Hulu’s built in recommendation do the job for me. It’s not perfect but that’s where applications like Glue step in to give me personal recommendations based on my likes from people I share similar interests with (more to come on Glue soon, if you already have Glue my username is AdamP). Easily finding the next show to watch keeps me engaged instead of mindlessly flipping through channels.
When stuck watching traditional TV (mostly for sporting events), I find my mind drifts and wanders and I actually pay a lot less attention to whatever is on. I am relatively tech-savvy and skew pretty high on the geek radar amongst most of my friends, but honestly connecting your laptop to your TV is not that difficult.
The future is now. Internet TV will only continue to increase in viewership. There’s already a large number of baby boomers using Hulu. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all streaming video into our living rooms, iPhones and virtually anywhere via the internet. It’s already possible, today. It’s just a matter of doing a little bit of research and connecting a few wires and devices and you too can be on the bleeding edge of internet TV.
Do you pay more or less attention to shows when viewing them online? Have you hooked up your computer to an external monitor (computer or TV)? What’s your preferred way of viewing the boob tube?
6 responses to “Hulu Multi-tasking”
As you know I don’t watch a lot of TV. You make a good argument on the utility of internet TV however and how it focusses attention on the content rather than the advertisements. Of course, the ads are what make the shows possible. I’ve been reading newspapers online today and I notice they average one or two ads per page, usually toward the top. That can’t be cost effective.
You also mentioned Glue, which I don’t know anything about, but like reading the hard copy of the newspaper, I think this robs a bit of serendipity from the experience. I don’t want to be pointed to what an algorhythm thinks I will like. I would prefer to scan what’s available and choose for myself. If I am spoon-fed what I am supposed to enjoy, I will miss other things that I would sample on a lark because it caught my fancy. I learn more in depth on the rss model, but I learn more broadly the old fashioned way.
Now that they don’t have card catalogues in the library, I just go straight to the racks to poke around and see what I can find.
The Globe article did make one good point. Advertisements within streaming video may prove to be much more lucrative than ads on traditional TV sets as the viewer can immediately click through and buy the product being advertised.
Not sure what your reference is to cost effectiveness. The higher up on the page an ad is the more valuable it is to the advertiser. With Google Adsense, the highest ad on the page is the one that gets delivered the highest paying content to the site.
With Glue, the algorithm is based off who I’m friends with and what I’ve reviewed and liked. So it’s personalized and helps me find content I might like based on content I’ve previously liked. It doesn’t require you to view recommended content however, it’s just a tool for finding new stuff without randomly stumbling around.
Instead of missing something, I find it helps me find more stuff that I would have never stumbled onto otherwise. I suppose it all depends on how much information you want thrown at you. There is a point of information overload, but with the web it’s pretty easy to filter out the noise.
I am wondering if he lost a lot of money in TV Advertising…
Sounds highly probable!
Web development will lead to more and more on demand TV. It is so desirable for me that I will watch greatly diminished quality. More, I would be more than happy to pay to remove commercials. I really do want to ditch my cable – I watch 2%T of what it offers – but need that 2% – well… need. I don’t need it.
You’re absolutely on point Greg.
Wonder if we’ll see the rise of membership internet TV sites, where you get the ability to remove commercials and even watch live TV.