Hulu Beta Testing

Hulu.com icon logoIn a largely speculative post last month, I wondered about the possibilities of Hulu, News Corp’s new online video venture.

Since then I’ve received my beta testing login details. With a great deal of excitement I went to Hulu.com to see what fantastic wonders would be presented to me.

None. If you’re in Australia, bad luck – it’s a case of look, but don’t touch.

For now, Hulu is a U.S. service only. That said, our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide. This requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time.

Being limited to North America because of distribution rights, international users are agonisingly teased by a long list of currently popular TV shows they can’t watch – Arrested Development, Family Guy, Scrubs, King of The Hill, My Name is Earl, The Office… the list goes on, and unless you have a beta login to Hulu (get on the waiting list) none of those links will get you anywhere.

With a login, choosing any episode from one of those shows takes you to the video player screen, right to the excited point of ‘Loading Video’ before slapping you in the face – rejection.

Hulu.com screen grab - Unfortunately this video is not currently available in your country or region. We apologize for the inconvenience.
But I want to take advantage of the options alongside the video player – share, embed, watch it full screen! Hopefully it’s not too long before something is up and running for Australia.

In a desperate attempt to see the video player in action, I tried some older shows in the hope they were no longer affected by distribution rights. Thankfully, even Doogie Howser episodes (Breaking Up is Hard to Doogie) from 1989 were unavailable.

ABC Now

In a continuing push to break new ground in digital media, ABC (Australia) has released ABC Now, a desktop media player for select ABC digital content.

The potential of this application is huge. When I read the description of what it would do, I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately the interface isn’t entirely user-friendly at the moment, but it’s in beta, so expect something great to come.

For what is obviously planned for this media player the ABC is again demonstrating why Australians go to them for original online audio and video content – because they try to make it easily accessible.

Often they succeed in the attempt, and that’s why their podcasts and vodcasts have enjoyed such popularity. ABC digital content has succeeded because it is available. If there’s not much to choose from, people move on. The ABC’s integration online of text, audio and video content is impressive, to say the least.

If you haven’t seen it, check out an example of their in-page video player on this story.

Hulu – the News tube

Earlier this year it was announced that News Corporation was developing a YouTube killer.  It was to be their own video serving site that was going to deliver full-length TV shows in a partnership with NBC, rather than the perceived notion (misguided I think) of the worthless fare served up on YouTube.

The News Ltd paper I work for (full disclosure) went so far as to declare in March 2007 that “YouTube’s dominance of online video content is about to end”.

Hulu.com is the outworking of that effort and is now in beta, and it’s looking pretty good.

Something very few news sites are doing today is incorporating social networking opportunities into their structure.  Even less are incorporating social networking into their video content – which remains for the most part clunky and unappealing.

Hopefully Hulu will change that for News Ltd/Corp.  This aspect of the current beta player is promising.

The “embed” function allows you to set in and out points, so you can embed just a selected chunk of a video clip on your blog.

I really hope this technology gets rolled out to all News Ltd/Corp sites, because it will exponentially enhance video content accessibility.

A review of Hulu at LostRemote.

Twitter News Media

Twitter logoSomething I didn’t mention in the previous post is that Twitter can also be utilised as an advanced, and free, mobile news updating service.

The other day I discovered news feeds on Twitter. I started following the New York Times world news feed with mobile phone message updates. These consist of a headline and a URL link to the full story.

For anyone on an internet-enabled phone, this is a quick and easy way to get news updates. My mobile phone isn’t internet-enabled, so just getting the headlines wasn’t entirely useful, and the SMS messages filled the inbox within a few hours.

For the media outlet, the cost of putting headline updates on Twitter is minimal if done manually, none if the process is automated.

For the consumer there is no cost for receiving, or ‘following‘, the updates via Twitter.

They get a headline delivered. If they like it, they follow the link to your site.

Twitter for work

Twitter logoI’ve been thinking for a while, perhaps reading elsewhere, that Twitter could be applied to business communications.  Twitter messages can be read via an RSS feed, or the real-time free text messages to registered ‘followers’.

Twitters (messages left on Twitter) are limited in length, much like a text message on a phone, but would be very handy for imparting brief, quick instructions to everyone in a work group immediately on their mobile phone.

via Phil Windley’s Technometria:

…using Twitter as a messaging endpoint in what Rohit Khare calls a “syndication oriented architecture,” or SynOA. Jon Udell and Rohit talked about this on IT Conversations a few weeks ago.

I’m using Twitter in a similar way in my class this semester. My students are writing servers that send updates to a Twitter account via the Twitter API. Anyone can then subscribe to those updates through RSS, via SMS, or simply by going to the Web page. Easy, simple, and pretty effective.

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