I’ve recently become a big fan of a couple of video-on-demand services that are out there: Hulu and Netflix. ### Netflix Watch Instantly
I’ve been a big, big fan of Netflix since I joined up in 2000 (geez, 8 1/2 years ago? Why aren’t I in one of their commercials???) I love their DVDs through the mail service, and I love the fact that they’ve grandfathered me in, allowing me to keep the 4 DVDs per month for $20. That simple fact has played a huge part in me continuing to give them my money.
Then they when and made a subset of their library available via streaming at no additional cost to their subscribers. And that was cool. But since the service was only available to Windows users, and as a [Mac user](http://q-burger.com/2008/11/20/q-review-buy-a-mac-for-cheap-at-the-apple-special-deals-site) it really didn’t make me jump up and down. Yeah, I could watch via VMWare Fusion, but it was slow and kludgy and I wasn’t very enamored with the experience. But that has recently changed.
A short while ago, Netflix switched to Silverlight for video playback, and in doing so, opened the door for Mac users (sadly, only for Intel-based Macs, which leaves my wife and mom out in the cold until they decide to spring for NEW Macs). And now, I’m very happy.
You know all this if you’re current Netflix subscribers, but if you’re not, if you’re premium cable subscribers looking for a way to save few hundred bucks a year, dropping back to basic cable and becoming a Netflix subscriber is a pretty good way to pull it off.
The only catch is that you don’t get access to new shows; you have to wait until they’re released on DVD. Which is where Hulu.com picks up the slack.
For watching new shows, I look to Hulu. I’ll let them explain what they’re all about:
>Hulu brings together a large selection of videos from more than 100 content providers, including FOX, NBC Universal, MGM, Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. and more. Users can choose from more than 900 current primetime TV hits such as The Simpsons, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Office the morning after they air, classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The A Team, Airwolf and Married...with Children, movies like Men in Black, Ghostbusters, and The Karate Kid, and clips from Saturday Night Live, Friends and other popular TV shows and movies.
It’s a free service that’s supported by ads. It’s a bit of a pain to have your show interrupted by commercials, but, you know, you’ve been dealing with it your entire life. It’s not that big of a deal. And it’s a small price to pay in my mind in order to get new, free, relatively high-quality content.
There are some other nice features like the ability to subscribe to shows in order to quickly get to the new episodes (nice for the Daily Show and Colbert Report) and the ability to share clips with friends. All in all, Hulu’s a nice site and service that more than makes up for the commercials that bring in their money.
### How is free entertainment going to end up costing me money?
So with all this free or cheap video entertainment available over the internet, how is it going to end up costing me money? Mostly because of the experience. Right now, I have to watch this stuff on a computer. That means sitting at my desk, or having a laptop on my belly. It also means that it’s not very convenient for the wife and I to enjoy a show together. Because it’s not on the TV, the appliance that the living room is arranged around.
In order to truly revel in the bliss of vid-on-demand, I need it to be on my TV. And in order for it to be on my TV, I need to buy a computer to connect to the TV. But, in the spirit of rationalization, a cheap computer will still be much less than a year or even 6 months of premium cable. So the math may still come out in my favor. The challenge will be finding room in the budget for it.
[Netflix Movie Player Beta Opt-in](http://blog.netflix.com/2008/10/opt-in-for-new-netflix-movie-player.html)