After TV

As I've noted before, it's kind of a hobby of mine to figure out ways to use the internet as a replacement medium for traditional communications services, most especially TV. I get cable news from TVU Networks and a variety of TV shows from iTunes and Google Video. But I recently discovered a service called Veoh that, at least for me, makes TV, cable services, and Tivo pretty much obsolete.

Veoh looks like YouTube or a thousand other video sharing sites at first glance. The big difference is that it offers all videos as bittorrent downloads. Users can subscribe and download any video or movie available from the community of users. And after downloading the proprietary (DivX) Veoh player, you can configure the service to automatically search and download any "series" (normally a TV series), "tag", or "publisher". The player then updates subscriptions, turning your computer into something like a Tivo player.

Torrent files can suck up a lot of systems resources. If you don't have a lot of memory and a fast internet connection, Veoh can pretty much make your computer inoperable. To deal with this, Veoh has developed a feature that allows you to schedule the downloads, so that system resources are only used during the night, for instance. However, my Vista ready desktop with 10Mbps download, 4 gigs of memory and a 250 gig hard drive can pretty much handle constant Veoh updating.

There is a ton of content on the Veoh site. The service seems to be very popular in Korea and China and, as a result, there are lots of Asian TV shows on the system. But there is also plenty of US produced content, including tons of movies. Some of the content is clearly copyrighted material and if Veoh starts getting more attention, my bet is that the studios will start forcing Veoh to pull some of what appears on the site today. But presently only a small proportion of the copyrighted material is being flagged and there is plenty of good stuff on the system.

There is a "Pro" feature on Veoh that allows legitimate publishers to sell their content. I am happy to pay for content and would even pay a reasonable subscription fee if it were offered. The music industry learned that people are willing to pay for content and will eschew illegitimate file sharing services when music is offered at reasonable prices in a convenient download service. The movie and television distributors have yet to learn this, so I don't beat myself up too much about downloading some of this material. By doing so, users of Veoh will force the studios to get with the program and start offering their content in convenient download formats. (I know that sounds convenient, but it is also true!)

In any case, as Veoh stands today, it is a great service. In the morning when I logon to my computer the Veoh player has been updated with all the documentaries, movies and TV shows to which I subscribe. The system finds other stuff that it thinks I would like, and often I do. If not, I simply delete it. As far as I'm concerned, Veoh is a better service than cable TV with Tivo, as it not only allows "time shift" viewing, but also offers social networking features that assist in discovering interesting content.

Finally, I should note that Veoh is not just for entertainment. It has a host of "educational" features, including video college courses and interesting documentaries. You can build a playlist that might include an episode of HBO's Rome, a documentary on the Roman Army, a college lecture on Roman history and a BBC production of Julius Caesar. Now that, you have to admit, is more interesting than your average night of cable TV!

Veoh gets a big thumbs up from the SpyralNotebook Tech Recommendations Program.

2 comments:

JP

11:09 AM

You are truly a geek. Have you measured your biceps lately?

Jake

11:59 AM

Well, certainly not the 155's they used to be. Probably just 105's about now. Ask TC what my nickname was in high school.