More and more people are giving up on cable TV and turning to the web. According to a recent study by Parks Associates about 900,000 U.S. homes relied solely on the Internet for TV in 2008. Another survey showed that 8% of adults now view television shows online at least once a week (Leichtman Research Group). The same survey found that 8% of adults who watch video online now watch TV less often.
For me personally I find regular TV almost unwatchable. In an average 30 minute show there are now something like 13 minutes of commercials. These commercials are so intrusive that I find I completely lose track of what I was watching and just wander off. It is even worse when trying to watch a movie. You can't keep any continuity of the story at all when it is interrupted every 5 minutes. Then there is my biggest peeve: ads inserted directly into the video. These are overlaid onto the program that you are trying to watch. It started off with small static graphics in the corner of the screen and has now grown to include full motion ads and scrolling text across the entire bottom. No program they offer is worth it for me when overlaid with that much garbage.
There are so many choices on the web that make for a much more satisfying experience than watching regular TV. YouTube of course has millions of videos but it isn't really a substitute for TV. For a real TV substitute you need to go to a site like Hulu. There you can watch clips, whole shows, and whole movies. Yes, they have commercials but they are FAR less intrusive. And to make it even better Hulu has now released the application shown above. It is a free application designed to work with Microsoft Windows Media Center. It makes watching TV on Hulu even easier than using your cable box. For various silly reasons Hulu restricts viewing to people located in the US but if you are clever that can be bypassed
There are of course other ways to watch things too. I use Netflix extensively. You can have them mail you DVDs but you can also watch a huge part of their collection directly on your PC or TV. Using the Roku box (shown above), an Xbox, or one of several other devices you can access the movies and stream them directly to your TV. In our home theater we use our Xbox to stream them and it works flawlessly.
Another option is a media box like this one from SageTV:
It can display photos and videos stored on your computer directly on your TV. At the last Consumer Electronics Show (CES) they demonstrated a new version of this box that will also directly access Hulu.
We are beginning to see the end of TV as we've known it and the start of a new type of TV. It can't come any too soon for me!