6 ways a DVR is better than hulu

I recently wrote 10 reasons why hulu is better than a DVR. Here are six advantages that DVRs have over hulu.

  1. You get higher quality video. If you have an HD source, chances are the video quality on your DVR will be much better. Hulu offers a very small selection (13 full episodes last I checked) of HD programming. Note that some local TV distributors charge extra for HD service. With AT&T u-Verse, the $15 for the DVR becomes $25 when you add HD.
  2. It’s designed for your living room. DVRs, despite the horrible UIs, were designed to be controlled from a distance and connected to your TV. It’s still only the geek set that will bother connecting their PCs to a TV for hulu. There’s hope though: Boxee is bringing hulu and other Internet video to a variety of platforms. A killer device would be a DVD player or game console that has boxee/hulu built in, similar to the LG blu-ray/Netflix player. (Boxee itself is based on XBMC Media Center, which runs on XBox.)
  3. It’s more network efficient. This isn’t a concern for most people today. But it may become one as incumbent TV providers wake up to the threat of Internet video. With a DVR, it doesn’t matter to the cable company how many people watch a show; the more the merrier. With hulu, every stream takes incremental bandwidth. Comcast is capping monthly bandwidth at 250 GB. It’s unlikely that ordinary Internet usage would come anywhere near that, but two or three people regularly watching hulu could hit that.
  4. You can record virtually anything. Although some DVRs restrict recording of some content (e.g. pay-per-view movies), the rule-of-thumb is that you can record whatever comes down the pipe. Hulu’s content comes from a select (though large) list of partners. You can’t, for example, watch ABC shows on hulu. Partners have Byzantine restrictions on when content appears. While many shows appear on hulu the day after broadcast, others appear eight days later. (House, Monk, Psych) I strongly suspect that this is because of Nielsen’s Live plus 7 TV ratings.
  5. You can keep what you record as long as you like. DVRs don’t generally expire content; as long you have free space you can keep it around. Or until you move and have to give the DVR back to the cable company. Most of the recent content on hulu expires within a few weeks.
  6. You can skip commercials.

I also came up with two more pluses for hulu:

  1. You get bite-sized content. Many of the shows I watch, such as talk shows or variety shows, are really collections of discrete elements. With hulu, I can get to just the parts I want easily. I don’t have to fast forward through the inane comedy bits to get to an interview I want to see.
  2. You get uncensored content. hulu offers content you won’t see on basic cable, such as scenes with nudity or bad language. (You must be logged in to see these.)

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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