No Netflix, No Hulu… No Problem
by Dave Loft
The studios just don’t get it, if you don’t make the content available legitimately, people will find another way to get it. So far there isn’t an option for Android users looking for a way to watch Hulu or Netflix on their device. The reason for the delay has been blamed on concerns of DRM. The reality is that no matter how DRM is implemented, it will eventually fail. Then theres the other question and arguably the more important one. Who is going to use an Android app that requires a monthly subscription as a means to steal content and share it on the web? It’s far more likely to be done using a cable box and a PC.
Now at least in the US Amazon has an option for Android users to buy and stream videos to their Android device. Unfortunately in Canada, the only option for Android users is to buy a DVD and rip it into a format the phone can play. Which is a rather time consuming process and in the age of digital distribution, rather ridiculous.
I stopped buying physical media a long time ago. I get my music from Rdio, my comics from Comixology, my books from Kobo, my TV from Hulu and movies from Netflix. I try to stay as legitimate as possible but when it becomes more difficult to use, or worse it’s just not available, I tend to head to the types of sources the studios wish never existed.
Rdio, Comixology and Kobo have apps that allow me to enjoy my content on the go. But since the movie and television studios haven’t yet learned what the music labels learned several years ago, they are currently hurtling towards a cliff in Bugatti Veyron at 407 KMH with the brakes from a Volkswagen Jetta. Subsequently customers are being lost in the very holes they created by not offering a competing service.
So what do I suggest for TV on the go? TV Shows Stream, which is available on the Android Market for a one time purchase price of $5 from Loading Home. TV Shows Stream provides as the name suggest a method for streaming TV and it offers more content than Netflix and Hulu ever could.
When you click on the show you like, it will give you some general information about the show as well as a link to IMDb and the option to Add or Delete Bookmark. It’s really easy to use and and is a necessity considering every letter of the alphabet has hundreds of show listings. At the bottom will be a list of seasons with each episode name and number listed inside. Once you click on the episode you want you will be given a list of links to watch from. On occasion some of the links will be dead, hence the reason to have several to choose from.
For fans of Megavideo, TV Shows Stream offers an option to login to your account from the homepage. Without a Megavideo account, you will be limited to 72 minutes of streaming video from their links. For anyone who doesn’t have a Megavideo account I would suggest using Karambavidz or Loombo videos. They offer excellent quality, no time limit and can be loaded into an external video player, rather than played within the browser using flash. The battery life and playback controls on your Android video player is definitely better than the browser.
For anyone looking for movies, I would suggest MegaViewer Movie Streamer Pro. It’s not quite as good as TV Shows Stream. While TV Shows Stream’s UI is very sparse, it’s also very usable. MegaViewer Pro is just badly designed and lacks any options whatsoever. But the biggest issue is the inability to bookmark your position in the movie to save it for later. This issue is made worse with the players inability to fast forward or rewind. But even with those issues as it stands, it’s still the best option for streaming movies to your Android device. MegaViewer’s selection doesn’t have everything, but what it does have blows away what Netflix can offer.
Now the nitty gritty. The act of streaming movies and TV shows you haven’t paid for is not exactly legal, yet it isn’t illegal either. It currently lives in the gray area of the internet where major corporations have yet to sway governments into changing laws with which to prosecute anyone who partakes in it. Currently it comes down to the act of sharing content that will get you in trouble. So wither these apps are OK to use or not really comes down to your personal beliefs and morals. But if you pay for cable, satellite, Netflix, Hulu or any other video distribution service that fails to offer an option on your mobile, you now know of your alternatives.
It’s interesting to see the studios doing just what music labels did ten years ago. They don’t provide an option so an illegitimate option takes it’s place. Then by the time they figure it out and make something available they have to convince people who have gotten used to the free alternative to start paying again. The funny thing is the free alternatives may never have even existed had the studios made their content available from the beginning. It will be at that point that the studios turn to lawsuits to solve the problem they created in the first place rather than try to innovate.
So for now enjoy the freedom while it lasts and give these apps a try. If your interested, bear in mind they do require Android 2.2 and slow phones need not apply. Also don’t expect the longest battery life if you plan to watch a lot of video. With the display on, a data connection in constant use and a heavier CPU load it’s really no surprise to see a significant drop after finishing a movie. So if the morals and stiff requirements don’t scare you away, MegaViewer Pro and TV Shows Stream are truly great alternatives to Hulu or Netflix.