Streaming Video Notes

I do not watch much “regular” television. I have my Tivo set to record MotoGP, I have some of my favorite old TV shows set to record on MeTV (currently “Perry Mason” and “Get Smart”), and I simply can’t live without “Full Frontal”. Other than that, I watch Netflix, and am in general satisfied with that.

Netflix

Netflix IconBeing the grand-daddy of video streaming services, Netflix is the reigning champ. Pretty good selection, the app’s are decent (the consistency between the native app on my Tivo, on my Panasonic Smart-TV, and my tablet is excellent). It has a large selection of movies, but some issues with the coverage, as in there are a lot of modern movies, and some recent block busters show up in their catalog, but my penchant for the obscure, and personal favorites makes it hit or miss. Perennial favorites of mine, like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (hey, I love that movie, don’t judge me) are there, but others that are staples like Bladerunner, The Matrix, and my preference for quirky SciFi are spotty at best. For a while Bladerunner was in the catalog, but it was the absolutely abysmal US theatrical release where there idiotic narration telegraphs the subtle plot twists to doltish ’muricans who are not sophisticated enough to get it.

Also, a peeve of mine is that various episodes of the Jame Bond franchise appear, and are pulled at random times. I am sure this is due to content owners licensing whims, but it is a total pain in the ass.

Netflix has been trying to build a portfolio of “Netflix Originals” to compete with the outside content. An admirable goal, but in general I am “meh”. Naturally they push these options to you in their recommendations, but I mostly scroll past them. Why? I have found that almost universally they are mediocre. Haphazard writing, the acting is OK, but mostly the story lines are uninspiring and bland. My personal rating starts with 2 strikes against the Netflix Originals, and most I don’t get past the pilot episode before dismissal. (Example: Stranger Things, which many of my friends rave about, I gave that 3 episodes before tuning out. It just sucked.) Of course, I loved Narcos, so not all Netflix Originals fail to deliver.

There are gaps in their catalog, as with all catalogs, and if you prefer older movies, as I do, you will find annoying holes in their offerings.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime logoOf course, we buy enough from Amazon that we are Amazon Prime subscribers, and that opens another option. Less selection, but in general some gaps are filled, and with the bonus that if you want to rent or purchase a video, it is but a button push away. But I have to point out that the Amazon streaming user experience is f*cking garbage. Perhaps if I had an Alexa I would be less jaded.

The other issue with Amazon is that, like Netflix, Amazon is at the whim of the content owners and things pop in and out of their “Prime” category with alarming frequency. If I go away for a month, half of what I have in my queue will no longer be available free with prime. Lame.

But it is “free”.

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus logoRecently, I learned that Hulu has made their trial 1 month (it used to be 1 week), so I fired that up. I am pleasantly surprised. There are shows that are notably absent from Netflix, like The Outer Limits, and South Park (that used to be on Netflix, but disappeared a few years ago), and more seasons of The Twilight Zone.

Originally started by the major content owners as an alternative to Netflix, they have a lot more of the current TV shows, and streams from the major networks. That is a plus, especially for the odd networks like FXX, and AdultSwim that I like the programming on. Also, they have an immense library of clips and shows like Saturday Night Live, so if you are into that, they make finding segments easy.

Their movie selection is somewhat lacking. At least in my 1 week of my free trial. It does have the latest James Bond flick, “Spectre” that I haven’t seen (where the hell have I been that I missed the release of that?)

However, the streaming quality on Hulu, is, um, how to describe this, shitty. Unlike Netflix that seems to adapt to glitches in bandwidth by the ugly, but acceptable reduction in image quality, Hulu seems to stop and buffer, or to be herky-jerky. It is really annoying. One thing though, the app on my Tivo for it, is truly abysmal. The built-in app on my Panasonic Smart-TV is actually much better quality. I guess I will submit a trouble ticket to Tivo for that.

I am torn whether I will continue to sub to Hulu. I will give it more time to experiment with. And I do love me some South Park.

Summary

It is a good time to be alive. For someone like me who never really watched network programming, I love the ability in streaming to pick and choose what I want to watch. I could subscribe to HBO-Go and not have to pay for the channel on my Comcast (’scuse me, “xfinity”) subscription, or I could add the Showtime add-on to Hulu.

I can binge watch series that I love, like Archer (curse you, 7th season had only 7 episodes, damn you) and ignore that which I don’t care for.

I wish that the Hulu streaming didn’t have so many technical problems. I will use my trial period to see if I can figure out how to minimize that downside.

The jury is out on the original programming. Many people love the “Originals” but in general, my experience hasn’t been so sanguine.

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