Posts Tagged ‘tv’

Hulu experience

Hulu - A Day In The Life_ Tim Ferriss - Watch the full episode now.-1I’ve never seen anything from Hulu before but the idea for streaming TV seems totally amazing. What’s even better is that there are Hulu Originals, which in my head, I think of a “HBO Original Series”.

I saw an original from a series titled “A Day In The Life”. This one featured Tim Ferriss, the author of several books in the four-hour series. It was about 30 minutes long and it was amazing. I saw ads:

  • Before the video started, I saw an ad (30 seconds long, from the title sponsor). This is basically like what you see on YouTube these days. You have a choice to watch one long form commercial or just see them as it happens like a normal TV show.
  • Around 6 minutes into it, there were 3 ads. These ad combos are about 1.5 minutes long. So each ad is about 30 seconds long.
  • I see that you can swap ads – an “ad swapper” called “Hulu ad swap”. You have 3 ads to choose from. So you basically watch ads.
  • You can also tell Hulu if the ad is relevant to you or not. I for example learned more about Bing and found that it was useful as an ad.
  • Around 15 minutes into it, I got yet another 3 ads
  • Around 25 minutes into it I got an ad about the Hulu original series itself that wasn’t skippable which then led me to another 1 minute 15 second ad break.
  • I can pause Hulu TV and come back to it exactly where I left of.

Hulu - A Day In The Life_ Tim Ferriss - Watch the full episode now.So in 30 minutes, I saw 10 ads paid for by their advertisers. The first ad is by the title sponsor. The remaining 9 are various rolling ads that I can skip. Oh, and I saw another ad about the Hulu series itself, so in total, they were basically 11 ads. Thats about 330 seconds of ads. Some 5.5 minutes of ads in 30 minutes.

On killing Hollywood

Paul Graham recently published a new request for startups titled Kill Hollywood. It is definitely worth reading. The motivations behind such thoughts are clear. Filesharing is not killing the movie & TV industry.

“What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people.

Better ways to entertain people. This thought has been sitting in my head for the last couple of days while I’m just a stones throw away from Hollywood & have a pretty good view of the Hollywood Hills from outside my window. The RFS goes into more detail about games, apps, the possibility that exercise might take over, but to think broadly and figure out where the entertainment of folk are going to in the next twenty years.

The studios are making less profits because the way Hollywood is structured. This is why Sarah Lacy says to kill Hollywood, you’ve got to learn their game. Someone like Ryan Kavanaugh is using math to beat Hollywood at their own game — you may have seen Relativity Media, and that’s the company who’s funding many successful movies today. Sarah Lacy sums up the content game that will help us win against Hollywood fairly well:

“The lesson: Eyeballs aren’t equivalent to one another. For Hollywood to be killed, the Internet needs to focus on a metric other than eyeballs. It’s not about mass, it’s about good. That’s absolutely anti-YouTube and anti-Farmville and any other content which we expect to be rapid, mass and disposable. Disposable content isn’t bad, it’s just not everything. And as long as that’s all that the Valley is putting out, we won’t kill Hollywood.”

There is an experience of going to the cinema in where I am happy to pay USD$12 or RM25 for a seat. In the USA I believe in the ratings system, but in Malaysia where I watch most of my movies I feel cheated by the censorship board. But I still go and spend cash because there’s an experience. However I’ve noticed my TV & movie watching habits have changed — I wrote about how I consume Hollywood in 2011. I believe that in Malaysia (and most of Asia), one is forced towards looking at content via filesharing. Because Hollywood hasn’t grown up and they believe in making money from regions, delaying releases by regions, etc. Traditional models.

Of late I’ve quite enjoyed watching the Sundance channel on cable. On Friday in the USA Today, Robert Redford, founder of the channel and the film festival had this to say: “With the new technology creating all the voices and noise from bloggers and tweeters, it’s chaos,” Redford says. “Where are you going to get the real truth with so many loud voices barking? I look to documentaries as almost investigative journalism.”

That covers a set of genres. But independent films rarely cover comedy, action, etc.

People get entertained by different things. At different times. Some days a romantic comedy makes sense. Some days a chick flick is all that gets you going. Then you’ve got days when action is all you crave. And the list can go on…

So what are better ways to entertain people? Games? Interactive movies? How does everyone get paid fairly when you get away from the big studios? Do production costs then go down when you bypass them?

This is why people love the Cheezeburger Network. Or 9gag. These are new ways for people to entertain themselves. However the metric there is eyeballs and the content is disposable. People need substance to entertain them. I once said that paying $10 for Plants vs Zombies provided me with a lot more entertainment on my iPad than going to maybe 2-3 feature length movies.

I’m still thinking about different ways for people to consume media. Different ways for people to sink their time in. And I presume I’ll be thinking about this for long.

As an aside, don’t assume that independent media folk get “new media” either. Classic examples in Malaysia would be Nasi Lemak 2.0 and Relationship Status. Nasi Lemak 2.0 stars the controversial Namewee, who not only made the movie on the cheap (independently), he went on to getting it in cinemas and also at the same time did the entrepreneurial thing of in tandem getting it showing on cable TV. This subsequently got his movie pulled from the cinemas in question, rather abruptly. He disrupted the cinemas and the cinemas reacted in their traditional methods to pull his movie. But even today, you can’t buy a DVD or download a digital version… Even if you’re willing to pay for it (I know I am). More recently, Khairil M. Bahar made Relationship Status; however still with the traditional model of going to the cinema. No DVDs. No downloadable digital version. Its worth noting that I’d pay RM35-40 for a digital download (though I don’t think that might be everyone’s price point – experimentation needs to happen clearly).

Its sad to see that even young independent film producers aren’t moving where their audience is moving to. They’re thinking like studios are thinking. They need to be disrupted. After all, these Malaysian producers are forgetting that there is such a large portion of the Malaysian diaspora spread across the world whom are unlikely to step into Malaysian cinemas anytime soon. Imagine a day when I can read a review about the show, then automatically click on a link that allows me to either stream the movie now or download a copy. If it is a service that has my credit card details on file, this is a seamless process; if its individuals, I just checkout via PayPal, and am either seeing the movie on my TV or waiting half an hour or so for the download so I can pop it on my iPad.

Back to the drawing board. There are better ways to entertain people. There are better ways for consumption of media & content.

How I watch TV/movies in 2011

I’ve been thinking about this in recent times. I like consuming media during ‘dead-time’, which helps me switch off, and feel refreshed when I have to switch back on. I think the way I’m watching stuff is next to no different from how the average Malaysian urbanite is watching stuff…

Lets divide media that I consume into two different categories: television shows (the form of a weekly series) and movies.

I have a subscription to the satellite tv monopoly in Malaysia, ASTRO. I also have HyppTV via Unifi, and most channels on that are free for the first 2 years, since I was an early adopter. in theory, I have access to a lot of television shows as well as movies. I never watch free-to-air tv, despite it being available.

When I have down-time and I’m sitting at home on the couch (my weekend getaway), you can see me watching live sports (the F1 in general), catching up on CSI, NCIS, Bones, etc. I’m not religious in following these tv shows, so I don’t feel bad if I miss an episode (or ten). ASTRO takes care of this for me via Axn, Fox and sometimes Star World. Live sports is something cable is probably always going to give me, despite there being streaming services on the net.

However for shows that I do have a religious following to, say House, Lie to Me, Californication, Mad Men, I don’t catch these shows on cable tv. Why? For one, I enjoy watching these series either as soon as they come out, or back-to-back. Also, I dislike the censorship board mucking with my content (imagine a censored Californication?!?).

So what are my choices? I can wait to buy the DVD series on a per season basis on my trips to the USA. These used to be very easy when the Virgin store was open in San Francisco. When they closed, I moved on to buying things in Borders. Now even they are gone, so I have to pre-order via Amazon (which takes away the whole impulse purchase for me). Alas, this is my preferred solution, as I get to keep the DVD media for years on.

If I want to catch up with a show that all my friends are watching and talking about, it seems like my only option is BitTorrent. BitTorrent allows me to watch shows on my TV, iPad, or my laptop. And it allows me to be current. It’s flexibility.

I’ve tried rentals and purchases on the iTunes store (using my US-based account) and while the process is easier/streamlined, it’s not available in most regions.

Malaysia is commonly known for DVD sellers peddling pirated shows on disc. They cost RM8 a pop, they’re uncensored, and the quality generally varies, however you usually get a good copy. I asked on a little poll on twitter recently, and generally the tech-savvy folk have given up going to the DVD seller. He has been disrupted by the availability of fast bandwidth and BitTorrent.

I like rewarding production houses, so if I download something via BitTorrent, it’s because it’s something I enjoy, so I will buy the original DVDs when I’m in the USA. I very rarely watch these DVDs, so I’m not sure why I buy them, but maybe it’s just a sense of ensuring I’ve paid for the content I’ve pre-screened.

There are stores in Malaysia that sell original DVDs. I don’t go to them because those DVDs have been thru the hands of the censorship board, and I’m not about to pay USD$20-40 for censored content.

I enjoy the experience of going to a cinema and seeing a show on the big screen. I’ve become a bit of a cinema snob, preferring to only go to GSC Signature cinemas, as I find the rest of the seats generally too cramped. Most times the shows I catch are ok – but sometimes, the censorship board annoys me again. Recently I caught a movie titled ‘Love and other drugs’. It was so horribly censored that it took away meaning from the movie, and I was unhappy at paying for the tickets (despite getting a 1-for-1 deal thanks to CIMB).

I saw the same movie on a Lufthansa plane and it was so much better. I tend to watch a lot of movies on the plane. It’s free, and it’s uncensored. Screen sizes are getting larger, almost matching the size of the iPad in some airlines (this in coach, mind you). And I have my Bose noise canceling headphones, that work a charm.

For classics, BitTorrent seems to be the easy fix. You can’t walk into a store to buy it, and I’m almost certain the DVD peddlers have no interest in carrying such items. For movies that I really like, I automatically add it to my cart in amazon, for the next big pre-purchase.

Since I have ASTRO, I do flip channels to catch some content on HBO, Cinemax, and Star Movies. Now that they are offering some of this content in HD, I don’t mind watching a movie I’ve never seen before and might have good ratings on IMDB. Most of the time, I don’t notice heavy censorship, and when I do and the movie piqued my interest, the methods above are how I might catch it again.

As you can see, in Malaysia, people are forced into using BitTorrent or visiting their pirated DVD seller.

There is no Netflix service (I used to be a Quickflix subscriber in Australia – loved the service). There is obviously no streaming on-demand service like Netflix offers in the USA. This is something Unifi is trying to do (video on demand) but the content is lacking/unappealing.

Ideally, I’d like to watch a show, uncensored, because there are ratings. Rate it, and then let the grown ups handle it.

Ideally, I’d get tv and movies on demand, via IP (IPTV is the buzzword in Malaysia for 2011 – watch that space). I can be billed at the end of the month for what I watch, and I get to keep the tv series and movies for a limited time in my library. Rather than artificial time limits, maybe a bookshelf approach as to how many items you can have on rent at any one time. And if I like it, I place an order for the DVD all via my tv. And since this is all IP based, I should be able to watch my content on my mobile phone, iPad, laptop, anywhere I am in the world, as long as I have bandwidth to spare. I should also be able to download a rented copy, so I can watch it while I’m in transit (following the same bookshelf rent method) and have no access to the Internet.

Will all this be possible in Malaysia before 2020?

The Star Online does TV!

I hardly visit websites anymore, preferring instead to muck with feeds, in my current feed reader of choice (Google Reader, on this very fine day, kept in a site-specific browser). But I did visit The Star Online recently, and was shocked to find that they had a multimedia section, that also had video clips! Its called

The Star Online - newspaper also hosting video

A newspaper, traditional media that is print, embracing video? I wonder if reporters are carrying around little FlipMino’s :)

Seems somewhat popular even. On Thursday Malacca divorcing George Town had a paltry 163 views. Today, its Sunday, and its up to 1,089 views. Most viewed video is at 9,752 views, in where Thaksin goes shopping in Dubai.

Its interesting to see that they’re hosting the videos on YouTube and embedding them. They have 740 subscribers to their YouTube feed (soon to be 741 as I subscribe to them :P)… They’ve been around for over a year, and have had under 35,000 views in their channel – nothing exactly fancy, but a good start. Its also good to note that they’re not updating it like once every day – it gets updated several times a day.

Kudos to this old media company, exploring new media… As more people think about IPTV, as more mobile phones support fast data access, as more people stop reading dead tree newspapers, this kind of experimentation is going to pay off for them.