Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog #6- Michael Warren

Comparing Hulu and YouTube was an interesting experience for me, as I’ve spent a lot of time on both sites and therefore was worried I would be too numb to the various nuances of each. From what I already know, YouTube is a place primarily for users to upload their own videos and Hulu is run by a company that displays exclusive, licensed content and most notably many full episodes of television shows. But strictly from the stance of individual video-watching experience, there are number of various similarities and differences between the two sites.

On YouTube I decided to watch a video entitled “Hakeem Dream Shake vs. Kings”, which is an old clip of Hakeem Olajuwon putting his signature low-post move on a member of the Sacramento Kings many years ago. I watched this video because it was one of the first videos I saw when I got to YouTube, as it had been recommended to me due to the fact that I recently watched a video of Hakeem Olajuwon teaching footwork to Orlando center Dwight Howard. This was where the first big difference in my video-watching experience between YouTube and Hulu arised. On Hulu I decided to watch a video entitled “Stephen Colbert Hijacks Jon Stewart”. I watched this video because it was one of the one of the first videos I saw when I got to Hulu, as it presented me with recent episodes, popular clips, and featured content on the outset. Clearly YouTube and Hulu have different interests in mind in terms of what type of content the site aims to point the user to from the start.

With the “Hakeem” video on YouTube, I noticed that the video (which was all of fifteen seconds) took almost no time to load and when it did load, the video was very grainy (as should be expected from a video taken in the late 80s to early 90s). Conversely, with the “Stephen Colbert” video on Hulu, I noticed that the video (which ran a bit lengthy for a clip, at 1:10, but wasn’t too long) took quite a while to load as I had to sit through a thirty second advertisement. This certainly wasn’t desirable as the advertisement was almost half the length of the actual clip. Also, I had on Ad-Blocker so it was just thirty seconds of silence for me. Once the video did start, however, I noticed that the quality of the video was quite high. Overall, while you can certainly find some high-quality-looking videos on YouTube, you seem to be almost guaranteed one on Hulu.

As far as the surrounding areas of the video, on YouTube I’m instantly given information on how many people had viewed the same clip, how many people liked/disliked the clip, and some of the most recent/top comments written about the video. All of these functions help garner a community-type feel at YouTube. On the other hand, on Hulu the most prevalent surrounding areas are the advertisement under directly the video for the American Red Cross, which asks users to Help the Japan relief effort by donating, and then upon scrolling further down you can see how many people on Facebook like the video (which isn’t ever a great litmus test). Both Hulu and Youtube do tell the user the title of the video, the uploader of the video, and the video information on top of the video and have links to other videos along with them. YouTube just seems to suggest more relevant videos than Hulu, probably because of their more extensive tagging system. Also, on both sites the user can subscribe to the uploader. One other difference is that while you can rate each video on Hulu out of five stars, on YouTube you simply “like” or “dislike” each video.

Overall, while there are some similarities between the two sites, they both seem to be very different in a number of different ways and are primarily there to serve different purposes. Hulu is there for officially licensed content and advertising. Users are guaranteed high quality videos but have to sit through advertisement and have no community feeling accompanied with the experience. YouTube is there for user-generated content, or more generally, anything users want to upload. Most videos don’t contain advertisements, and there is a real sense of community and user-specific identity harbored throughout the sites. Both are great sites that seem to be fulfilling their purposes wonderfully thus far and will likely be serving internet-users needs for a long time.

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