Where to catch TV and movies you want to watch

by David Spark on September 5, 2007

One of the major problems with the deluge of video and video sharing sites is that it’s an overwhelming amount of crap. There are actually great shows that have appeared on TV and in the theater that are available online. Here’s some advice on where to find some of the coolest and best programming on the Internet. Some stuff you pay for and some you won’t.

  • iTunes – They’re controlling the mindshare of the “must see” online video. Content that originally appeared on TV that’s now available on demand for a small price, $1.99.
  • What are the networks doing? – While iTunes set the model for purchasing media online and viewing it offline. ABC set the model for offering options to viewers who want to pay for online media versus those who want to get for free. Most of their popular shows are available for download on iTunes, but if you want you can watch them for free with ads and no ability to skip ahead on the ABC site. CBS has much of the same on its site. Unfortunately you need to install RealPlayer, my least favorite media player, to get it to work. NBC is stirring up some excitement with its soon to be released Hulu site.
  • Top-tier video sharing tools – There’s YouTube, Metacafe, and 1000 other video sharing sites out there. But there are a handful that are delivering some top tier content with a higher quality full screen experience. Services that often require a separate download and install such as Joost, Babelgum, and even Veoh who is currently being sued by Universal Music Group.
  • Jaman – This is a very interesting viewing tool that’s distributing the scores of films from around the world that don’t get major or even minor distribution. Many are free but some you have to pay a few dollars to view.
  • Not necessarily on the up and up – This is my kind way of saying there’s many sites where people are downloading and streaming TV shows and films illegally. Given the highly decentralized nature of Bittorrent, the P2P downloading utility, it’s the most difficult to stop. Video sharing sites that host illegal content are far easier to send “cease and desist” letters assuming they’re within your jurisdiction. For a while, French site DailyMotion was getting away posting much of HBO and Showtime’s content. That content is off now, but once one comes down another pops up. Right now a Chinese site is hosting a ton of copyrighted TV shows and films.
  • Netflix – The DVDs-to-your-door subscription service also allows you to watch video on demand through its Web-based viewer. While the site doesn’t have its entire catalog online, they definitely have plenty of good content available to watch. Model works that you can watch an hour every month for every dollar you spend a month. If you’re spending $22/month for Netflix you can watch 22 hours of content a month. The Netflix video viewer requires Internet Explorer.
  • Amazon Unbox – Many TV shows and films are being sold there for download. Many at the same iTunes-set $1.99 per TV show price. Some of the films are priced at the same cost of a DVD. Not worth it.
  • Other random cool sites to check out: In addition to these sites, there are a handful of other sites I’ve stumbled upon that are offering solid content with high quality if not HD production. Check out NGTV – No Good TV, Vuze, Charlie Rose, and ONNetworks.

I’m always up for recommendations and getting turned on to new sites and new content. Please let me know if you have any other top sites with A+ content you’d like to share.

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