Hulu Plus – A balance between TV and TiVo
It’s not secret that I was a big fan of TiVo. For almost 10 years I sang their praises until they screwed me over by overcharging me. Instead of ‘refunding’ the extra I paid they provided me with ‘discounted’ refurbish HD units that ended up failing left and right.
Needless to say it’s been almost a year later and I’m still not going back to TiVo. I tried to use the cable providers DVR and it’s a complete mess of a system. It hardly worked, and it seems every time I went out of town and came back home instead of a DVR full of content, I was teased with a list of shows that it failed to record.
And for some odd reason the DVR consistently kept changing to channel 7, conveniently at the same time info-mercials were on in the afternoon.
However, the straw that broke the camels back was when I set BOTH DVRs to record the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, both showed that it was recording so I went off to do other things. After all it’s not like they were live in the first place.
When I returned home the red indicator light gave me the warm comfort that it was recording. I caught the tail end and was excited to review what was just recorded. BOTH failed at different times, oh but wait there is the VOD copy that I can access directly from the cable operator right? I won’t be able to fast forward through commercials but hey at least I’ll be able to see it.
So I crawl through the crappy menu that harkens back to the early days of computers and their text based BBSs, and I find the listing several layers deep, only to be greeted with a message.
“This content is not available at this current time, if you feel this is in error please contact your service provider”
It was very frustrating and so I dumped their system as well.
While I have a new product called simple.tv on order, it’s a Kickstarter project and won’t be here for a while. In the mean time I’m stuck with live standard cable via a TiVo minus service (so I can pause and hold for 30 mins – unless of course I bump the remote which I often do). The TiVo is HD however without the cable cards I only get a hand full of HD programming now.
So I turned back to Hulu Plus. Instead of the $30 and fees I was paying to the cable company, I’m paying $7.99 a month to Hulu Plus. The interface is less painful and gives me most of the programing and I’m looking for. I still have extended cable, in order for me to get my ‘News’ channels.
I say I turned back to Hulu Plus because I was a one time member but left when I got annoyed that I was paying for a service that provided commercials. That’s like a $20 cover to access $20 drinks, something else I don’t do. But I’ve been re-thinking that process and what is actually more insane is that I’ve got to pay $60 for the 10 channels that I really watch. While I can’t change that business model I can explain how Hulu Plus can be, at least in my situation, a nice cost effective solution.
As I mentioned most of the programming that I watch is available on Hulu Plus, the things I am missing currently are CBS shows. Also this option only recently became available when AppleTV added the service.
With virtually every DVR system you have a monthly service fee, it might be tied into your monthly cable bill, or you may have a plan with TiVo. There are a few alternative options but none that I’ve seen as a cost effective solution that I was willing to invest in.
I say the ball park figure is $10 to $15 per device on average.
So lets take a look at the numbers in the three different situations and the benefits.
TiVo w/Cable Cards
$60 – Basic Cable (Extended) with Digital Service – Access to Premium Channels
$45 – TiVo Service ($15 first – $10 each addition (x3))
$60 – Basic Cable (Extended) with Digital Service – Access to P/C and VOD
$30 – DVR Service ($15 each unit – only 2 DVRs)
Cable w/Hulu Plus
$60 – Basic Cable (Extended)
$8 – Hulu Plus Service
Not only am I saving about $22 a month, but I can access Hulu Plus from any of the four AppleTVs, five iPads, three iPhones, two iPod touches and my Vizio Smart TV. Did I also mention that I can access this content from virtually any internet connection? Understanding this helps justify the cost for access.
Now you might be saying, but there are commercials. Okay yes there are commercials, however overall there aren’t very many. Usually around 1 or 2 and usually not much longer than ninety seconds.
The other additional benefit is not needing to pickup the remote to fast forward through breaks. By having the short breaks, I’m not annoyed. What typically happened with a DVR is I’d be working on my computer and then about a minute or so into a commercial I’d get annoyed and then fast forward through the break. With the short breaks that Hulu Plus has, I’m able to tolerate it. In fact I actually don’t mind it.
But when you think about it, if you’ve got cable or satellite service, you are already paying for content with commercials. I’m just hoping that Hulu Plus keeps them limited, but it sounds like some changes might be coming to to the service in the near future. I haven’t heard anything solid yet, but there are rumblings out there.
I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been able to access of current programming. For example, Shark Tank. On the Cable System DVR I was able to access maybe 5 episodes at most, however with Hulu Plus I’m able to access 2 full seasons worth of shows.
Also Hulu Plus now has some original programming by Larry King and of my favorite writer/actor/director Kevin Smith with his new show show Spoilers. As well as the Criterion collection with a movies going as far back as 1932.
So if you’ve tried Hulu Plus but was turned off by the commercials, I suggest you reconsider when you realize how much content is there and the diverseness of access. It’s a great cost effective solution without the duty of having to actually having to fast forward.
Hulu Plus available on your computer, iOS, Android, X-Box, Wii, PS3, Roku, SmartTVs and I’ve heard even the Nintendo 3DS is going to be getting access soon.