I was lucky enough to score a beta invite to Hulu from one of my friends over at TechCrunch (thanks guys).
Hulu is what could be the precursor of the first legitimate online television network. Of course a major network is behind it, and NBC is doing exactly what the record companies didn’t do for online music by essentially getting a leg-up on this before the Napster’s and iTunes’ pop-up and do it before them. Sure, there’s still iTunes, youTube and other contenders like Joost to deal with, but from a usability, form factor, and quality level, Hulu is heads and shoulders ahead of them in all these aspects. By beating them at their own game, they can call their own shots in terms of licensing as well as monetization schemes from advertising.
In my opinion, this model will someday eclipse cable television as the preferred next step down from network. When you think of what it takes to operate a television studio like, let’s say, the Sci-fi Channel, imagine how much easier and cheaper it would be to serve up the same content with a similar advertising model. You’d shed the the headache of dealing with the cable operators and ISP’s (Comcast, Roadrunner, etc..) and instead of building a studio you invest in technology and infrastructure. None of this is a new concept but after seeing Hulu, it’s the first time that this really seems feasible.
Lastly Hulu seems to be positioned to succeed where products such as ESPN 360 have essentially failed. The ESPN 360 program only fully works through internet service providers who have signed up and paid ESPN for the programming. Viewers from non-subscribing ISP’s are essentially left out in the cold. So if you’re ISP doesn’t want it, you can’t get it. Why didn’t ESPN cut the IPS’s out and offer the service directly online? Who knows, though I’m sure there are different implications if your content is “live”.
Enough ranting, take a look at this SNL video below… as they say, the proof is in the pudding.