After so many years fighting the web with copyright claims and treacle-like reflexes, the TV and movie industries are finally embracing free to watch online video in force. Not only are less full length movies being pulled but channels like Discovery’s TestTube are showing up with a truckload of online-only content.
The new umbrella channel takes Discovery’s penchant for science, nature and technology and repackages it for the online audience of the moment. The network showcases over 25 unique web series, a result of bringing together successful online stalwarts like Stuff You Should Know and Nature Hates You under the one unified heading.
The future of TV is free and on-demand, and it’s already here.
What is TestTube?
TestTube is an attempt to unify the many successful projects that Discovery is a part of on the web. You might not actually realise it, but Discovery have quietly been working on brands like HowStuffWorks for years. The fact that more of us are moving to the web in order to find stuff to watch meant that TestTube was inevitable, really. The fact that it’s already here is great for you and me, and hopefully more networks will embrace the medium in the same way as Discovery has.
You can register and login at TestTube.com to watch, save and even download full episodes (yeah, I know) in your choice of MP4, THEORA and WEBM formats. Discovery are planning a range of ways to consume TestTube content including via Apple TV, Xbox 360 and iTunes, but at the moment you’ll have to stick with the TestTube website and YouTube channel.
Without further ado, here are my picks of TestTube’s current mainstays on YouTube.
Do you regularly look on the negative side of life? Do you feel like there’s a new danger lurking behind each curve life throws at you? Then maybe you’re right. Maybe ‘everything’ actually hates you. Like the sun, for example.
Nature Hates You is a predictable but light and somewhat informative (you know, science and stuff) channel for pessimists the world over. If you crave negative trivia, this show is full of it.
As previously mentioned, Stuff You Should Know was originally the audio podcast for HowStuffWorks. I’m not sure how popular it is now, but when I started using the Internet as a child, HowStuffWorks was one of those websites that our teachers would recommend.
The audio podcast which debuted as “How Stuff Works” has now blown over into a full-on YouTube channel where knowledgeable hosts Chuck and Josh continue to explore topics of interest. If you enjoy these videos but would prefer listening in half-hourly chunks, check out the podcast instead.
For my money, the best “take a very expensive camera used for science and do fun things with it” show still belongs to the Slow Mo Guys who I have featured in a previous Stuff to Watch. Of course, expensive cameras are limited to those with money – and Discovery also have money, so they decided to make Distort.
Distort is essentially the Slow Mo Guys with a higher budget, more safety equipment and dramatic music. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, and they often tackle more than petrol bombs and being hit in the face (though they did that one too).
Of all the TestTube shows, this one might be my favourite. An almost polar opposite of Nature Hates You, Thanks, Disaster! involves taking a negative world event and looking hard enough for the silver lining. For example, if it wasn’t for the French Revolutionary wars we might not have the modern pencil (as explained below).
Fusing history and a light-hearted short-form web format in perfect harmony, Thanks, Disaster! is probably my favourite show to come out of the TestTube Network so far.
Taking the Stuff You Should Know format of exposing how the ordinary and unusual actually functions, Discovery approach the conspiracy theory angle with their Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know show. I’d say “take it with a pinch of salt” but thankfully I don’t feel like I have to – we’re not in “crazy” territory here.
While entertaining theories behind weather modification, spying and government cover-ups the show doesn’t claim absolute fact regarding many of these theories. If anything, it’s a show that asks more questions than it answers (and it works best that way).
You know you’re in for a treat when the video you’re about to watch comes with a little disclaimer to remind you not to use it instead of the emergency services! Pick Your Poison is a show all about the affects of certain toxins on the human body. It’s both gruesome and somewhat empowering – after all, do you know how to spot a nasty case of Ricin poisoning?
Or exactly how many cigarettes you’d need to smoke so that you’d die from the affects of the nicotine?
Now you do!
Don’t forget to head over to the TestTube website for the latest new videos, as well as respective YouTube channels to follow your favourites using just about any device you own. Do you know of any other similar networks to TestTube? Which is your favourite show? Let us know what you think of these channels, as well as the shift in online-only programming in the comments, below.