“Watch your favorites. Anytime. For free,” the clever company slogan said. At my fingertips, I have access to a vast catalog of hundreds of TV shows and movies offering thousands of hours of content. What more could satisfy my ravenous appetite for quality entertainment? Visions danced in my head of not being bored by my satellite TV selection anymore, and finally finding distractions for all of my missing shows that are on strike-induced hiatus.
Hulu launched on March 12 to the general public, so I’ve spent time since then taking a ride on the online streaming bandwagon. It all sounded so exciting, so cutting edge. This is the future that media companies like Time Warner, NBC Universal, News Corp, and Disney are touting, all while committing large amounts of capital with hopes of big payoffs. So, after five days, am I still riding that wagon, or did I jump off screaming?
All Those Choices
While Hulu offers an easy to use interface, it’s not all it seems. In getting familiar with the site, I examined in great detail the content. As they claim, there’s a good amount of content, but what’s there is hardly comprehensive. In browsing through the “Popular Shows” section, there are nineteen pages of TV show icons. There’s a nice variety of programs, including several old classics that escaped my mind a long time ago, but the episode and clip selection deflates those offerings.
The first show I selected was one I remember from my youth for having that cool car, Starsky and Hutch (I saw that car in Vegas, by the way, and it’s even better in person). I was too young to watch the show when it aired, so now I have an opportunity to see it without going through the hassle of renting DVDs. Or maybe not. There were 37 episodes listed, all of season one, a scattered selection of season two, and one episode in season four. Several of the shows’ listings are like this, making me wonder what the selection process was for submitting episodes. The further I went, the more meager the choices became. The icons showed CNET clips, including bad ones from this year’s Detroit Auto Show (where are all the American cars?). Mrs. Piggle Wiggle? Paradise Hotel? Kojak 2004? I didn’t know they remade that one, and I’m glad I missed it. I found lots of clips of wrestling and beauty pageants, replays of college bowl games, and some show I never heard of involving one of the Queer Eye guys. Everything else became a blur.