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A screenshot of Hulu.com
Hulu is making its competitors sweat

These days, Hulu is asking its competitors tough questions.  For example, "Would you pay to watch TV episodes, when you can see them for free at your convenience?"

The site's basic premise is exactly that -- to provide legal streaming television at no charge -- and it is turning heads as it is perhaps the first profitable attempt at providing free (and legal) media in the online world.  The site has taken a page from web news' playbook, discovering the power of using ad revenue to pay for content.  It offers content from co-founders NBC and Fox, as well as from Comedy Central, PBS, USA Network, Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, SPEED Channel, Sci Fi, Style, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus, and Oxygen.

Now another major company has joined the fold -- Disney, owner of ABC, has agreed to start streaming content on Hulu, along with acquiring nearly a 30 percent stake, reportedly, in the company. 

The move puts pressure on a lot of people.  First of all, it puts television network CBS in a tough spot, as the only provider not to be on Hulu.  CBS's is not struggling for lack of effort, but its site TV.com failed to crack the list of the top ten video providers in March 2009, according to market research gurus Comscore.

Secondly, it puts a lot of pressure on Google and YouTube.  Google's video properties include YouTube which tops Comscore's list with close to 6 million unique visitors per month.  While much of YouTube's appeal is also home video-esque content, it draws many hits from commercial media as well.  With the Disney deal, Hulu is likely to be propelled into second place in the list of online video providers, albeit a distant second (Disney and Hulu combined had about 500,000 unique viewers).  So while Hulu still trails far behind Google's massive video empire, its turning up the heat on the giant.

And comparatively, CBS and Google have it easy versus competitors Apple and Amazon.  The rise of Hulu and its growing success are proving a massive headache for both companies, particularly Apple which was hoping to grow its iTunes business with TV rentals.  Both Amazon and Apple are struggling to convince users to buy content, when they can view it for free legally on Hulu.

Granted, Apple and Amazon do have some unique advantages.  Hulu is not available for airplane trips (yet!) or long car rides (barring wireless aircards).  However, other advantages are much less.  Unlike YouTube, Hulu streams many of its TV shows in 480p and high definition.  HD has traditionally been a trump card for Apple and Amazon's TV offerings.  Apple can take a bit of comfort -- at least Hulu is reportedly coming to its iPhone -- so its loss from its iTunes business unit may be a gain to its iPod/iPhone unit.

In summary, Hulu is one of those startups like Google or YouTube that seems destined to become a giant.  While it’s still young, its already proving a headache for veteran competitors like Apple.  However, for fans it provides pure joy, as one of the web's best new sources of video.



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If only shows wer on Youtube...
By quiksilvr on 5/3/2009 5:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
Why can't there just be the little advertisement bubble that shows up every 5 minutes and just post whole shows on YouTube?




RE: If only shows wer on Youtube...
By Dianoda on 5/3/2009 5:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
You could just use Hulu...


RE: If only shows wer on Youtube...
By quiksilvr on 5/3/2009 10:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
The player for YouTube is better because it doesn't rebuffer after every advertisement and runs much more smoothly than Hulu does (for me at least).


RE: If only shows wer on Youtube...
By Diesel Donkey on 5/4/2009 2:53:04 AM , Rating: 2
Are you sure it's the player that enables smoother playback rather than the fact that YouTube videos are of much lower quality/resolution and therefore don't require as high a speed of data transmission?


By quiksilvr on 5/4/2009 2:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
YouTube does HD as well. And 480p if uploaded correctly.


By Xhalarin on 5/4/2009 11:43:36 AM , Rating: 2
I had the "jittery" playback issue with the Hulu player too. Turns out this is because it is higher quality. I had to change my desktop resolution to a lower setting (1024x768) so that my video card could handle it. Plays great after that.


By redeem4god on 5/4/2009 4:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The player for YouTube is better because it doesn't re-buffer after every advertisement and runs much more smoothly than Hulu does (for me at least).


what world are you in? Every embedded player on a providers website buffers. That is the very definition of "streaming" video. It comes down to how often and how well it buffers.

Not to mention that most content on Youtube is pirated, snapshots and/or custom made videos and lacking marketing support. I've rarely come across regularly implanted advertisements. throughout content on Youtube.

Furthermore, any embedded player HD or not tends to play well until you maximize it to full screen. This then lends itself to other factors such as video card capabilities and monitor size. How well you receive the streaming packets also relies on your IP support DSL, Cable modem, T1 line etc.

So to say that one player is better then another is a blanket response from the user end as there are many variables involved. I never have a problem using my 24" widescreen and high-end card to play anything from Hulu.

On a separate note and in keeping with the article, very little of what the SciFi channel use to offer was every available on HULU. Stargate/SG-Atlantis and several other high profile shows were never available only the web interviews of "making of" crap.


By BruceLeet on 5/4/2009 4:04:47 AM , Rating: 2
If you're American...or have Hotspot Shield.


The problem with Hulu from a users perspective
By puffpio on 5/3/2009 8:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
Is that episodes get removed. When a series hits DVD, it seems to go missing from Hulu...or they only keep the last 5 eps..or the last 2 months worth of eps..
I want the entire series available online to be viewed on demand.

Of course the tv industry likes it...having it streaming like this prevents people from downloading it..and then since it's removed once the show hits dvd or becomes less popular, the piracy risk is mitigated




RE: The problem with Hulu from a users perspective
By arkcom on 5/3/2009 8:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's mostly an issue of storage space. As Hulu grows and adds more content they will probably start to keep more old episodes.


By imperator3733 on 5/4/2009 7:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Storage is cheap (about $100/1TB) these days so I don't think storage space is an issue (although I don't know how big the video files are).

One thing I had been thinking of is for Hulu to have a paid ($5-10/month) option where episodes never expire (you would still be able to access the last 5 episodes/2 weeks of a show for free, however). That would help the networks get a bit more money from the shows. The main reason networks don't pay attention to online viewing when deciding which shows to cancel is because there isn't that much money in online viewing. This would help with that problem, which would be a good thing.


RE: The problem with Hulu from a users perspective
By DM0407 on 5/4/2009 10:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should make a Hulu equivalent with a pay service. Hulu is making money as is, why fix what isn't broke.


By imperator3733 on 5/5/2009 12:54:51 AM , Rating: 2
I know they're making money, its just not enough for the networks to pay attention to the online numbers when deciding which shows to keep. If they make more money online, they'll be more likely to pay attention to those numbers. I have a feeling that a higher proportion of people watch the good (i.e. smart/intelligent) shows online as opposed to the bad shows. This is leading to the good shows being canceled while that bad shows survive.


HULU ruined my life
By petrosy on 5/3/2009 9:18:38 PM , Rating: 5
I used to be able to watch the DailyShow in Australia via the web..."The only TV I watch religiously" I no longer can watch it now thanks to Hulu. I consider whats happening to the online space as a form of digital apartheid. I am sick an tired of being discriminated against due to my IP address....:(
TV is dead and online stream is the way forward and should be available to all

The same happend to Pandoras...WTF!!!!

I guess the only option left is piracy!




RE: HULU ruined my life
By SunAngel on 5/3/2009 11:45:14 PM , Rating: 1
there is an easy fix for your situation. do as jed clampett (from the beverly hillbillies), pack up and move to the states.


RE: HULU ruined my life
By TomZ on 5/4/2009 2:12:26 PM , Rating: 2
That's funny...where is your sense of humor downraters!


RE: HULU ruined my life
By inperfectdarkness on 5/5/2009 8:51:09 AM , Rating: 2
deserves a 6.

i have suffered under the same B.S. while deployed. yes, folks...americans serving overseas are victim to the whims of corporate mavens who have some kind of legal "god-complex" which has convinced them that hulu needs to be CONUS specific.

never mind that al queida's media online can be accessed anywhere without regional lockouts--american TV (fox, nbc, etc) can only be watched domestically.

this is vastly different & far worse than console-gaming regional lockouts--where the content is NOT available LEGALLY online.

and they wonder why shows still get pirated. who is pirating them? i can't deduce that for certain--but if you want to find illegal copies...look on the laptops of every serviceman/woman deployed overseas.

hulu. idiots.

p.s. did i mention youtube doesn't have regional lockouts....?


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain

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