A Weeklong Series

TV Deprivation Day 3: The Couch Calls

New Media Is a Bit Too Labor Intensive for Erstwhile Layabout Matthew Creamer

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Two hours to download 'Entourage.' Not what our TV-deprived reporter had in mind.
Two hours to download 'Entourage.' Not what our TV-deprived reporter had in mind.
New York (AdAge.com) -- Boredom setting in. Irritability growing. On day three, the cracks are beginning to show. I miss being able to laze about on my couch nibbling around the buffet of programming provided by my new favorite people, the folks at Time Warner Cable. Sure, many of the dishes seem at least three-days old, but at least they're there, waiting for you. And you know what to expect, even if it includes some gastrointestinal distress. You realize that the always-there quality of TV is nothing less than a gift only when you've spent hours hunched over a laptop looking in vain for various scraps of prime-time TV.

Last night, I went home and spent two hours struggling with getting the latest episode of "Entourage" through BitComet. Let's just say that in the time it took me to download half of it, Vince Chase could pull down a bevy of starlets. While I waited, my idle TV stared blankly at me, taunting me with an easy fix: HBO On Demand. I resisted, but instead of continuing to fool around with torrents, I went over to CBS's Innertube site. Faced with a choice between "How I Met Your Mother" and "NCIS," I ended up just paying for some movies from iTunes and watched those.

It's no secret that today's online video world is about as orderly as the Sunni triangle. Its beauty is in its on-demand character, but on-demand works as a concept once all programming is available. Funny, that. For now there's an awful lot of stuff that either requires me to pay or is available as a torrent. All told, the act of searching out a lot of video is a fairly painful experience, one that requires both instinct and effort and turns you into a media gatherer, rather than a plump, layabout accustomed to having large amount of fat, sugar and VH1 pumped automatically into your being.

Now that he's 64-plus

Paul McCartney released his new video on YouTube instead of MTV. He's still old, though.

Checking in with Bud.TV

While I still can, I figured I'd check in with Bud.tv. It's a great hope of many big brands that they can create their own content channels and Anheuser-Busch's experiment is the first major play. Unfortunately, it's been bedeviled by a registration wall designed to keep out to the kiddies and seems destined for recycling bin of history. I wrote a relatively negative review of the site when it launched earlier this year and have since visited only periodically.

Once you get past the wall, there's a user-friendly interface and some mildly funny content. Despite talent like Chris Parnell and Joe Buck, there's nothing that's truly standout. I think in the final analysis, Bud.TV will get high marks for being able to create programming that isn't infested with Bud branding, but low ones for creating the stuff that didn't have any real pass-along value.

Maybe marketers will need to curb their ambitions a bit. Creating a full-fledged entertainment channel is a fairly tall order and they might be better served by just creating something useful. Ad Age colleague Jeremy Mullman alerted me to CallawayGolfTV.com, which features pros giving instructions on various kinds of shots. Phil Mickelson's how-to on a chip shop that actually goes backwards is cooler than anything on the Bud site. Not sure what the brewer equivalent of this would be. Kegstand training, maybe?

All the video that's fit for print

Here are two strong offering from magazine brands adding web video to their mix:

First up, is Vice magazine's VBS.TV. This is probably the best original video site I've seen, albeit it's one targeted to Vice's young, urban audience. So it's not for everyone, especially if you're not into a gonzo travel guide that will take you to places like Chernobyl and Kabul, an in-depth look at the Houston rap scene, or a look at a the changing face of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

At the other end of the universe is Better.TV from Meredith Corp. This collection of service pieces is surprisingly good. Short, well-produced and relevant. I genuinely enjoyed learning about:
  • "Sexy foods that will help get [me] in the mood," (bananas, dark chocolate and flaxseed)
  • What to wear to weddings (no white, so as not to compete with bride)
  • How to create a fishing outing for the family
  • Stress eating (I do it!!)
  • How to deal with male hair loss (it's too late)

Back to gathering

On Thursday, I'll be back in gathering mode, as I track down the season finales of "American Idol" and "Lost."

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