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Aloha Hulu! Who Hulu, you ask? Read on…

Twelve months after NBC and NewsCorp announced the formation of this joint venture, Hulu today shrugged off the super-secret cloak of closed beta invisibility, and open its doors up to the US-based general public. Hulu.com is a video-on-demand service offering 250 TV series, from old classics to contemporary favorites, and clips from a further 150 series; 100 full-length movies; sports highlights from the NBA and the NHL; and Web-based programs – all free! Firefly fans will be thrilled to find 14 episodes there, alongside Dragnet and, yes, Nanny and the Professor.


And oh, the movies – from the Big Lebowski to Quest for Fire to Ice Age.

Oh, and the video sharing is pretty slick, in case your posterior needed yet one more reason to remain firmly locked to the La-Z-Boy.

Is Hulu “Yet Another YouTube”? No, although someone has had their feathers ruffled – as evidence we give you Google’s alleged internal nickname for Hulu: “Clown Co.” Come on, Google, play nice and don’t be evil.

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That said, Hulu’s video interface is all slick and Web-point-two-ohey, and, well, does give YouTube something to think about:

 

 

 

 

And, yes, sharing options abound:

 

 

We think there are four areas to keep an eye on:

The first is content availability – and here we refer to legal content, not put-it-up-and-quickly-pull-it-down-again content posted by copyright-abusing torrent fiends. It’s far easier to state simply that Hulu doesn’t currently have rights to ABC or CBS programming, rather than list the many channels and shows for which they do have rights. Of course, ABC has until now kept its material on a fairly short leash, so that’s no big surprise. CBS? We’re sure it’s on the hit list. Consider this: Google serves content, while Hulu’s partners create content. And online, content is king. We’re just wondering how the split between exclusive and non-exclusive content distribution rights will work out.

The second area is one of distribution partners. Hulu signed up AOL, MSN and Yahoo, as well as Comcast, MySpace and FanCast. Not only will you be able to watch shows and movies on the Hulu site, you may find your granny linking to her favorite episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” on her MySpace page.

Third: Advertising. Hulu content is free, and is partially ad-supported. This appeals to the traditional media companies who see the Internet in general, and to some extent Google/YouTube in particular, as a threat. Hulu offers opportunity to advertisers by offering controlled conditions for their targeted campaigns – if the content providers who gave Hulu non-exclusive rights play nice, and don’t eat up all the high revenue ad opportunities for themselves.

Fourth, and finally, though the Web 2.0 experience of YouTube makes it an easy site to use – however you use it – it is the social experience that really made it fly. Posting video and sharing it, linking to
content, commenting back and forth, all served to increase the connection between users, and they kept on coming back for more. These capabilities made available for TV shows, and for self-posted content,
could give Hulu an edge.

Will Hulu be a GooTube killer? Not in a million. Is it cool? Without doubt. Will they be able to build a standalone sustainable business? Too early to tell. And to be frank, at Internet Patrol HQ we can’t think
about this right now – we’re all on tenterhooks, waiting for Hulu.com to go live so we can settle down with a tub of popcorn and Fantasy Island. Required viewing, people.

So, who Hulu? Woo-Hoo Hulu, we say.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
Other Amount:
What info did you find here today?:

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