Hulu: pay for TV shows, watch them in your browser window, NBC profits


Where is it written that new Web services must have stupid names? I refer to Hulu, NBC’s online venture designed to get you to pay more for something that’s freely available over the public airwaves and, for now, doesn’t work with your iPod. Goodness, NBC, that really is in the best interests of the consumer!

I like how the New York Times clarified Hulu for us: it’s not trying to compete with YouTube, but with Joost and other terribly named pay-for-professional-content services.

The comments in the article reflect, I think, a good chunk of Internet users’ opinion on such services. One is one of those militant Slashdot-type guys—I never view ads, I use AdBlock—but the others are a little more rational.

“At the end of the day, people who like TV have no reason to go to Hulu, and people who dislike TV have no reason to go to Hulu. They will dislike Hulu for the same reasons they dislike television – because it’s set up to dictate where and how you can watch. I bet Hulu doesn’t last 18 months.” That’s by someone named Joseph. And he’s right on. I guess you can say the same thing about iTunes, but his first point—Who wants to watch programs loaded up with ads on a webpage loaded up with ads? And no way to download content to watch on other devices? No thanks. If you enjoy that kind of system, you’ve already got television, and with television at least you can hook up a Tivo.—sorta explains the rationale there.

Then there’s “NBC Dunderheads,” which, for all I know, could be Ted CBS hating on the service. But look—”$1.99 from iTunes was very reasonable for SHOWS YOU CAN GET FOR FREE ON TV… Why pay for something that’s free elsewhere? CONVENIENCE… iTunes is CONVENIENT and a REASONABLE price.”

And there you go.

Apparently, NBC and its partners started Hulu because they wanted more money for each downloaded episode and Apple wasn’t willing to budge on the $1.99 price tag. NBC complained that Apple was making money by selling hardware that could play NBC’s junk and NBC wanted a piece of the action. But as someone here pointed out, does NBC make money every time I buy a TV?

And did I say that Hulu is such a stupid name? “Hey man, did you go to last night?”


Making Sense of Hulu [Bits NY Times Blog]