TV.com used to be a relatively bland TV listings site with some additional content. Since CBS bought CNet last year, however, TV.com is slowly turning into a full-blown online video destination site that is starting to resemble Hulu. Today, CBS announced distribution deals with PBS, Sony, Showtime, MGM, and Endemol that will greatly expand TV.com's line-up of shows on the site. Thanks to this, it looks like TV.com might be able to challenge Hulu, though CBS is also clearly emphasizing a different set of features on its service.CNet's
TV.com Emphasizes Social Experience
In contrast to Hulu, TV.com is putting a lot of emphasis on the social networking features on its site, starting with a chat widget right on the homepage. CBS also puts more emphasis on letting viewers rate shows and makes these ratings a focus of its service.
At the same time, TV.com makes good use of the rich amount of data it has collected over the years. Every show comes with short descriptions of the show, reviews from viewers, and a list of all the cast members, as well as blogs and forums for some shows.
Hulu, on the other hand, puts the shows front and center on its service and offers very little additional information. Also, while Hulu barely mentions broadcast TV on its site, TV.com put the prime-time schedule for the big networks on almost every page.
TV.com Needs More Content
If CBS manages to get more content on its service, then it could indeed challenge Hulu, which saw its market share grow rapidly last year. For now, however, the 'Watch Now' buttons on TV.com often only lead to short teasers for the shows and the links to 'Full Episode Videos' often leads to pages fully devoid of full episodes.
For now, Hulu is clearly the better destination if you simply want to watch TV shows online. Hulu has fewer features than TV.com, but it also features more shows and makes getting to these shows easier than TV.com.
Do TV Viewers Want to be Social?
Another question, of course, is if most viewers are actually interested in all these social features. Watching TV, after all, is not exactly a social activity, though sites like Television Without Pity have shown that there is a market for sites that cater to hardcore fans.