Video On Demand Smackdown

There has been a lot of talk lately about Internet Video on Demand services. Everybody seems to talk the most about Netflix. But is Netflix really the best? What about Hulu? And let's not forget Amazon, which has been making a big push lately in this space.

What if you were to cancel your Cable/Satellite subscription today? Could you still watch all your favorite shows? And what about today's popular movies? Can you skip the video rental stores and services and just watch all your favorite movies online? I wanted to answer these questions, so I did a little comparison.

The table is below, but first here are some notes about this data:

  • I used Nielsen ratings from last week to pick the top 5 most popular TV Shows from the two categories (Broadcast and Cable). I ignored news shows and one time TV events.
  • I used the top box office numbers for the last year to pick the movies. Of course, I only chose movies that aren't still in the theater.
  • A lot of the TV shows are available on their publisher's website.
  • A lot of these movies are available to own, but I was only interested in rentals.
  • For Netflix, I only looked at instant streaming, not DVDs.
  • I only looked at services available in the U.S. I don't have access to services available in other countries.

Broadcast TV

America’s Got Talent
Big Brother

So You Think You Can Dance
Cable TV

True Blood (HBO)

Royal Pains
Burn Notice
Covert Affairs

Toy Story 3x

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Iron Man 2x

Alice in Wonderland (2010)x


Despicable Me

Shrek Forever After

How to Train Your Dragon



What I Learned

This was a very interesting study. Here are some things I learned:

  1. If you want to watch TV shows, Netflix is not your best bet. Hulu and Amazon have a pretty full catalog of current TV shows.
  2. If you want to watch recent Movies, Netflix seems to have the most available, but even they don't have many. The movie studios still seem to be holding onto their content to sell in DVD/Blu-ray format.
  3. Many TV shows and Movies just are NOT legally available to stream online.

I really hope things change in the near future. I personally love the convenience of instantly streaming TV shows and movies. More and more Americans are buying Internet connected home entertainment devices that come with Netflix/Hulu/Amazon (and others) pre-installed. And people seem to be interested in having a wide catalog of shows to watch instantly. But for now, Hollywood is still behind the times.

Why won't Google fight with the wireless carriers?

I often admire Google for many business decisions they make. I was very surprised and pleased when Google decided to shutdown their china business operations instead of bowing to China government pressure to filter Google search results for Chinese searches. More recently, the government of Kazakhstan asked google to make some undesirable changes, and again Google said no. This is all evidence that Google cares more about the greater good than they do about $$. So...Google ALWAYS makes decisions based on the greater good...right?


Video for Everybody

As more and more people are using devices where Flash is not available, as a web developer you might be concerned about this trend (especially since Steve Jobs has waged a war against Flash). I found an awesome tool to help us solve this problem. It's a tool called Video for Everybody, which is basically some code you can use in your pages to display a video that will work in ANY device (as long as it can play videos, that is). You have to encode your videos in both MP4 and OGG format. Once you've done that, you use this code and it will do one of the following, depending on what the user's browser supports:

  1. Display HTML5 video
  2. Display Flash video
  3. Display an image with download links for the two video formats

So this way you can support all of your user's video capabilities with very little pain. And for the standard's conscious among us, it tries to use HTML5 whenever it can.

Lost a lot of respect for Wikipedia

So I had heard that the Barak Obama wikipedia entry had a lot of "edit warring" going on where people were rapidly adding and removing facts and information. So I went to investigate myself. Sure enough, if you look in the old revisions for the page, you can find this old revision that has a section labeled "Controversy". The only thing in this section is three links to men that have had some sort of controversial relationship with Obama in his past (the section is at the bottom of the article, above the Notes section). The three men mentioned are Bill Ayers, Reverend Wright, and Tony Rezko. However, if you look at The most current version of the article (I linked it's "oldid" revision because the page might change yet again by the time you read this), this "Controversy" section has been completely removed. In addition, the page has been locked for editing because of all the controversy.

Politics aside, I don't think anybody will dispute that these three men knew Obama and had some sort of relationship with him. And it's obvious that these relationships are controversial, by definition. You may have your own opinion about what these men mean to Obama, and what kind of man he is having dealt with them in the past. That is NOT what I am concerned about here. I just think it shows how innacurate Wikipedia can become when simple facts like the above (Obama's relationship with these men has been controversial) cannot stand in the article due to people's political beliefs and their ability to edit Wikipedia to match their political agenda.

Web Browser Y2K

You would think we developers would have learned our lesson after the Y2K debacle...but I guess not. We are now faced with a similar problem, but this time dealing with browser version numbers.


Monetizing Free Products

I have written a few times before about my belief that ColdFusion should have a few version. So I am not going to rehash my arguments again, you can find them here and here. Instead, I want to highlight a recent blog entry by Marc Cuban, who discusses the importance of offering a free version of your product. Marc Cuban is a multi-billionaire that got rich before the dot com boom, got even more rich during the dot com boom, and then kept most of his money during and after the dot com bubble burst. So it's hard to argue with his businsess sense. Not to mention, in addition to his software business successes, he owns a little team called the Dallas Mavericks. ;)


Free Google Webinar

If you use Google tools for your websites, you may be interested in this free webinar that Google is offering. It will cover three of their tools for web heads:

  1. Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Google Analytics
  3. Google Website Optimizer

The webinar is July 8th at 9 am Pacific time.

Acid3 test in the works

Now that all the major browsers have passed the Acid2 test, Ian Hickson has started work on the next challenge to the browser makers. Acid2 focused on HTML and CSS standards. Acid3, on the other hand, will focus on the DOM and ECMAScript.


Big News: IE8 renders Acid2 correctly

It's been 2 years and 9 months since the Web Standards Project issued the Acid2 challenge, and Microsoft just announced that Internet Explorer 8 correctly renders the Acid2 test. I think this is AWESOME news. Once IE8 is released and replaces IE 6/7 as the dominant browser on the 'Net (assuming that happens, of course), we web developers can FINALLY develop a standards compliant site, and it should run on IE, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. Yay!! :-)

What does your name mean?

I was curious about the origin of the name Conrad, a guy my wife and I know. So I googled, and found a site called Behind the Name, where you can type in any name and you will find the origin and original meaning, as well as famous historical people that had the name.

Interestingly, my wife's name Dyany is not in their database. Her Mom found the name in genealogy records from the 1600s. I already knew that Jacob is of Hebrew origins, but I didn't know that the Hebrew spelling is Ya'aqov. Very cool, makes me want to change my online handle from Yacoubean to this. :) Yacoubean is actually from the Tad Williams Otherland series, which had a bad guy named Yacobean (I misspelled it the first time I used it!).

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