Is It Impossible For Hulu To Survive?

from the too-many-competing-interests dept

We've pointed out in the past that you don't compete against piracy by being lame, and you have to give Hulu at least some kudus for doing its best early on not to be lame (despite plenty of expectations to the contrary). However, every time we've mentioned Hulu around here, we've noticed an awful lot of pissed off comments from users, who complain about too many advertisements or the ridiculous location restrictions (or music restrictions) that Hulu has to put on content at the request of content owners. And, now, with the removal of Hulu content from Boxee, some are beginning to question whether or not Hulu is driving people back to unauthorized options for TV content.

The real question, however, may be whether or not it was ever possible for Hulu to really succeed. This isn't to knock the team at Hulu, who have actually gone beyond most expectations in delivering what they could, with a definite focus on usability and making the service as reasonable and useful as possible. But, with so many competing interests tugging them in every direction, it's nearly impossible for the company to actually satisfy the content providers and viewers at the same time. We've seen it over and over again -- with content providers having totally unrealistic expectations of what sort of limitations need to be placed on their content -- not realizing that whether they like it or not, there are other options out there. Hulu did a pretty good job "competing" with those free options, but as content providers get more and more assertive with their demands for limitations, it seems likely that the company is going to find it more and more difficult to compete against better, more engaging and less annoying (if illegal) competing sites. You don't compete against free by being lame. Hulu seems to recognize that -- but Hulu's content providers still haven't gotten the message.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Isaac L., Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:05am

    it is an alternative, and I/we applaud that

    You must give HULU it's props on the response to it among the general public. I know many people in my life (and this spans generations) that thoroughly enjoy HULU's presence. The content on there is worth the small advertising interruptions that display.

    Hulu is a beacon of hope to some people. Yes it is not perfect, but really now... there is ALOT of stuff on there!

    I would wager that there are infinitely more people who love Hulu (or at least consider it a positive alternative) then the negative trolls that have only negative things to say about it.

    PEACE
    ISAAC

     

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      DS, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:21am

      Re: it is an alternative, and I/we applaud that

      Here's a Hulu positive. Nobody bats an eye if I watch something on Hulu at work during my lunch in my office.

      I don't think that the higher-ups would like if I start torrenting tv episodes.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:08am

      Re: it is an alternative, and I/we applaud that

      I agree. It does not have to be perfect and you cannot be all things to all people. They are doing a great job delivering what they are supposed to be delivering. If it does not fit your needs, move on. It's free people stop bitching about it.

       

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    DG Lewis, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Kudus

    Why would we want to give Hulu some spiral-horned antelopes of the African bush?

     

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    David T, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:16am

    I hope Hulu survives. Otherwise I have to go back to grabbing TV season packages (or worse, individual episodes) off alternative distribution networks.

    Hulu added value for me by allowing me to hit the "play" button and start watching immediately. For that, I was willing to deal with a few commercials(aka snack breaks).

    On a side note, the commercials aren't as onerous as the ones on network TV; some of them are actually worth watching, like the previews before a movie.

     

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    sf suave, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    No Hulu in the UK

    Living on the other side of the pond we can't access Hulu at all and it just occured to me why that may be...

    The content providers also sell the content to UK TV stations (satalite, cable and terrestrial), who show it, usually, after its aired in the states (some times months later).

    If we were able to access Hulu and watch this content, before its aired on TV, audience figures will probably drop and therefore advertising revenue (who's gonna pay as much to advertise during an episode of Lost that most people watched online 3 weeks ago?)

    Kind of explains all the "the ridiculous location restrictions" but that doesn't mean I'm happy about not being able to access it...

     

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      Simon, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:39am

      Re: No Hulu in the UK

      The content creators put themselves in a vicious circle.

      By creating artificial borders on the Internet, they ensure that a large audience of consumers rely on the P2P alternative distribution (well it's not alternative for them, it's the only distribution unless they want to wait, which isn't realistic given that the rest of the web such as fan forums are not border controlled). So they have a huge market they refuse to satisfy, so a black market has been created to fill the void. Naturally a proportion of their audience who DO have legitimate access to Hulu will use the black market alternative instead.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:21am

      Re: No Hulu in the UK

      That's an interesting thought regarding the timing of content.

      However, tv shows are broadcast at the same time in Canada and the US yet Hulu is still blocked in Canada.

      It has more to do with the artificial geographical restrictions put in place by the content providers. There is no legal alternative for Canadian online streaming that is any good. The quality is poor and many shows are not available.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:21am

      Re: No Hulu in the UK

      time to use a proxy

       

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      Joseph, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:02am

      Re: No Hulu in the UK

      We experience the same thing going the other way here in the US. British TV shows often take a year to cross the Atlantic (if they ever make it over). Even shows like Doctor Who, which come out just a few weeks after their original air date are badly cut up in order to fit in enough commercials. If there was a legal, cost-effective solution for me seeing this content now, I'd use it. Unfortunately, there isn't.

       

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    vbacon (profile), Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:22am

    Hulu has done a pretty incredible job and the commercials aren't really that bad. I know its all mental but I love that they tell me how long the commercial is going to be. I wish it hadn't cut boxee and offered more portable options - a hulu app for the iphone, streaming through the xbox, etc. I love on-demand function and even sit through some commercials that i can fast forward (Comcast's fearnet now has commercials on their ondemand materials).

    content-providers have got to get there stuff together and stop panicking about changing streams of revenue.

     

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    Lollipopsaurus, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    I really love Hulu. The service is decent enough quality, and there's a lot of free content. The few problems include: very loud commercials, limited selection on shows (sometimes only 5 episodes), and did I mention really annoyingly loud commercials?

     

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      discojohnson, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:34am

      Re:

      i second the loud commercials...also that often the same commercial is at every break, or at least it's the same series of commercials. like when target was pushing the christina a. album, that's all we saw for a week straight when watching a season of kitchen nightmares.

       

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    asdf, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:31am

    Who is pissed off at it? Selfish people? I love hulu. 3 10 second commericials is nothing to legally watch the most up to date tv shows online.

    The real problem is people want everything for free with zero consequence. They want to be able to walk into a movie store grab what they want off the shelf and walk out.

     

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      :Lobo Santo, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:21am

      Re:

      Well... YEAH!
      Like, duh.

       

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      R. Miles, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:11am

      Re:

      The real problem is people want everything for free with zero consequence.
      I disagree. Every month, I'm paying for content I'm not even watching. My cable fees are distributed amongst many of the content providers. While my individual fees may not be much, many others are in the same position.

      Thus, I expect all online content to be free. Period. Without ads, fees, or restrictions. Why? I helped pay for it and distribution online is much cheaper than cable/satellite distribution.

      So why shouldn't consumers expect this? TV is one thing (although there should be NO ads for service WE pay for) but online is much different.

      Keep in mind this is the same industry which is trying to get DVR recordings banned/restricted for one purpose: Squeeze every damn penny it can from the very consumers who make the content profitable to begin with.

      I'm done with this crap. If I want something bad enough, I will find every mean available to me to get it at ZERO cost because I'm tired of paying $80/mo for increasing ads and decreasing content.

      So, call me selfish all you want. When the industry cares more about my wants rather than my wallet, I'll stop being selfish.

      Because, at that point, it's the industry that stops being selfish.

       

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        Phillipi, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:20am

        Re: Re:

        I'm not sure you are actually paying your fair share to produce and distribute on air content. Consider HBO it is an extra 9 bucks a month or more in some places. Now take the amount of channels you have and multiply it by a few dollar extra a month. Subtract the amount you are paying for TV now and voila you have the cost of commercial-less TV. Also consider that just because content is online does not mean it got their by some magically free method.

         

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        Someone who has a clue., Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:04am

        Re: R.Miles

        "Thus, I expect all online content to be free. Period. Without ads, fees, or restrictions. Why? I helped pay for it and distribution online is much cheaper than cable/satellite distribution."

        Why the heck should all online content be free? How in the world to you think your measly 30 to 50 bucks a month you pay for internet service is going to pay for all content all over the web? What exactly do you think you are paying for? Websites don't see any of that money. You think the telecom industry PAYs people to set up websites? That money is paying for all the infrastructure that supports the internet, not the content on the internet. Don't be ignorant.

        To the people that talk about how they PAYED for DVRs and how that means that all of the sudden they have earned the right to watch the shows commercial free and how INSANE the entertainment industry is for not liking the fact that people aren't watching the commercials, I say this: That's like saying I PAYED some company for a grocery cart so I should be able to take as much food from any grocery store without paying. The entertainment industry doesn't see revenue from DVR sales. Does anyone here have a job? Has anyone here worked in industry? Is anyone actually paying for internet and DVRs or is it your moms?

        Look, I don't like commercials anymore than you guys do but I recognize that it is the current business model that allows for such entertainment to be created so that we can watch it for freereduced price. Think about all the cost that goes into all of the entertainment content on all the channels all the time. It's staggering(especially considering how filthy rich actors are). Don't confuse your fees for cable, satellite, or internet service for paying for ACTUAL content. That is paying for the infrastructural costs of the service. (installation, upkeep, upgrades, etc.) Have you tried paying for putting a satellite up in space lately?

        I agree that the current business model is outdated. It should be changed. And I am willing to listen to ideas. But to tell people that your 80 bucks a month that your mom pays is going to pay for all the cost of infrastructure and content?....keep dreaming friends.

         

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    Haywood, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    I've only gone to Hulu 2 times

    Both were disappointing. The last time; recently friends were discussing an aspect of a monologue on SNL, we really only wanted to see a fair use portion of it. I went to Hulu, & tried to find it, no go. I finally went to a torrent site and got the entire episode, too late for the support for the discussion, but the next time we get together we can look at it, then I'll delete it. I don't blame Hulu, I'm sure if it was up to them it would have been available. A pirate in this case, really was an under served customer.

     

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    Eric, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    Hulu is doing a damn good job

    I like using hulu. I use it to watch several TV shows when I am ready, not when the TV station is ready to show it to me. As for the commercials, they show one commercial for every normal commercial break. I'm OK with that, I usually watch them all because they are so short. However with that said, I don't like that it's frequently the same commercial for the whole show. If I didn't click the ad the first time I'm not likely to click it the second, third, etc. On a similar note, they need to target the commercials better. Lately I have been getting the FIOS commercial a lot, while I am watching it on my FIOS connection, what a waste.

     

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      Sean, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:46am

      Re: Hulu is doing a damn good job

      Yes, well they don't know what your connection is. Your criticism of their ads is pretty stupid. FIOS is a competitor to Comcast and other broadband services, something consumers must have to use Hulu the way it's intended. Based on the recently imposed caps, throttling and the willingness of some companies to handover the data about the file-sharing and browsing tendencies of their users, maybe now, you can understand why you might see FIOS, a competitive broadband service, being advertised on an Internet-TV-Station.

      Does that make any more sense to you? I mean, you still see car advertisements on TV and you have one of those, right?

       

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      Sean, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:46am

      Re: Hulu is doing a damn good job

      Yes, well they don't know what your connection is. Your criticism of their ads is pretty stupid. FIOS is a competitor to Comcast and other broadband services, something consumers must have to use Hulu the way it's intended. Based on the recently imposed caps, throttling and the willingness of some companies to handover the data about the file-sharing and browsing tendencies of their users, maybe now, you can understand why you might see FIOS, a competitive broadband service, being advertised on an Internet-TV-Station.

      Does that make any more sense to you? I mean, you still see car advertisements on TV and you have one of those, right?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    I love Hulu. Everyone I've talked to really likes Hulu. There are a lot of people who don't want to pay the ridiculous prices for cable or satellite and who would prefer not to illegally download content(i know, weird right?). I think Hulu does a pretty good job at delivering an acceptable alternative between the two.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:52am

    Commercial Complaints Overrated

    I've been using Hulu a lot since I don't have a TV hookup currently and even if I did I'm usually out/working when the shows I want to watch are on. One thing I can never understand are the people complaining that there are too many commercials.

    I mean, really? Too many commercials? As opposed to watching a real TV broadcast or what? I personally think that to these people they will be only happy if there are no commercials.

    The only annoying thing about the commercials for me has been that its the same one that shows up every time. Its not bad when you're watching a TV show but some of the movies... well let us just say it gets old quick in those cases.

    It seems from the way its breaking down that the number of commercials vary widely so either they're testing the limits or each contract for each TV Episode / Movie stipulates how many commercials will be shown.

    I've noticed more and more however that they are giving you the option to watch one slightly longer commercial at the start (usually 10 seconds longer) or a bunch of smaller ones in the middle. So you can get an almost commercial free showing of what ever TV Episode / Movie you want to be watching.

    Also, I bet that the location restrictions which are a bit weird is due to the contracts to get the actual shows. I bet the studios want more money or something ridiculous so Hulu just took the easy route and caved to restricting it.

    So yea, glad you realize that the actual content providers seem to be hampering Hulu's success. If they'd take off the restrictions, the team at Hulu would probably have a skyrocketing success instead of a limping beast.

     

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    Dave, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    Much love for hulu

    Seriously, I LOVE hulu.

    My stupid TiVo cut off the last five minutes of Heroes one week, so I logged on to Hulu, watched a couple of obligatory ads, and got to see the rest of the episode.

    Plus there are some TV shows that friends have told me about that I totally missed, or I have conflicting TV shows at the same time for. Hulu solves all of that.

    On top of that, the commercials are hilarious. I actually sort of want my brain to turn to mush now, just so Alec Baldwin can eat it.

     

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    Overcast, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 6:53am

    The real problem is people want everything for free with zero consequence. They want to be able to walk into a movie store grab what they want off the shelf and walk out.

    Not true.

    I PAY for cable and I also PAY extra for the DVR. It's not free, but since *I* am paying, I will skip whatever commercials I wish to skip.

    Simple as that.

    If the service doesn't offer that, now that the technology is available, I'll PAY for other entertainment.

    I don't ask for 'free' content, I ask for the ability to use the technology that's available to watch the content that I am currently paying for.

    Just because these networks want to squeeze out more money with advertisements doesn't mean a thing. The whole 'concept' of paid cable was always 'less or no commercials' due to the fact that you are paying for the service - at least that's how it used to be.

    But then in addition to charging for cable we see more and more commercials start to get aired along with having to pay for cable - but then, technology comes along that allows more flexibility in the way I watch TV and now they complain and cry that I'm not watching the commercials.

    Tough - I'm PAYING for cable for a reason.

    I don't watch much TV as it is. I'm more of a gamer. Atari 2600 was like a gift from god in the days of commercial laden 70's sitcoms.

    So sure - give me one less reason to watch, don't matter to me. Saving 80 bucks a month on cable will allow me to buy another two games a month - which will certainly keep me busy.

     

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    Orlandin, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:01am

    Everything against them

    I was watching several shows a day from them, until I got the announcement that Charter was going to a metered service. Granted I am probably not close to the limit, but it does make me reconsider how much I watch.

     

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    Matt, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    hulu was grounded before it started

    Mike, you were completely dead on from the start. Hulu did not have a future, its wings were clipped prior to release.

    Here was the main problems with hulu:

    1: it tried its damnedest to stay 100% legal. No record company wants things to be legal. Behind closed doors, they all hope for a scandal to promote artists. That is why they select big artists to complain and get press. Hollywood knows exactly what it's doing.

    You don't break new ground by living within the box, you have to redefine it. Big companies tend to threaten with lawyers and that makes the site more popular, and this is an intentional trend by Hollywood.

    If youtube was "100%" legal instead of following fair use, it would be the most banal and boring video site ever, guaranteed. There would also be about 1/100th of the number of videos.

    2: It had the support of the record labels instead of making the labels support it. This meant that they chose to play within all the rules, in fact hulu was essentially the labels attempt at exerting control. Everyone knows about the "missing episode" problems, or that all you can get is a single season off hulu. If all seasons of a show were on hulu, then the site would have some support. When it becomes esssentially a high quality streaming archive, people will watch. When it becomes "you can make up for last weeks episode", there is no value provided. It just means its the place to use some firefox plugin to download last weeks episode so you have it for later in lieu of a Tivo or VCR.

     

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    Kevin, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Hulu will probably fail...

    But on the upside, once Hulu DOES actually fail, it can be an object lesson into how NOT to provide a VoD service. It should be readily apparent that the content providers' restrictions make the business untenable.

     

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    Longfellowx, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Interesting Comments

    You guys at Techdirt have bagged on Hulu since before its inception - killing it for everything from name choice (now it's a great brand) to its limited restrictions. On this site, you are often insisting that companies admit their mistakes for lacking the foresight to see the grand new future of media that you continue to insist will lack any restrictions at all. "Content wants to be free." Perhaps. But as Hulu has proven, if you provide that content in nice packaging and present it in a convenient way, people will tolerate some small interruptions and limitations. It's worth it. I would much rather watch 30 Rock on Hulu than download it via a torrent. I half expected a bunch of commenters to bag on Hulu like you have, but instead, most have praised Hulu for its ease of use. Turns out most folks are quite as uptight as you about Hulu's limitations.

    Will Hulu survive? Of course it will. Alec Baldwin is their pitchman. Perhaps for the first time in the history of Techdirt, you can admit a mistake and move on. You are usually right, but sometimes, like everyone, your predictions for the future of media turn out to be wrong.

     

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      Mike (profile), Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:56am

      Re: Interesting Comments

      You guys at Techdirt have bagged on Hulu since before its inception - killing it for everything from name choice (now it's a great brand) to its limited restrictions

      Hmm. When did we kill it for the name choice?

      But... um... did you not notice that in this post we actually talked about how *GOOD* a job Hulu has done, and how the problems facing it are IN SPITE OF the GOOD JOB Hulu has done.

      I'm not sure if you didn't actually read the post when you wrote this comment or what.

      But as Hulu has proven, if you provide that content in nice packaging and present it in a convenient way, people will tolerate some small interruptions and limitations.

      Indeed. And we've said that in the past. I like Hulu. The point of this post was not to knock Hulu, but to point out that its PARTNERS may be killing a good thing.

      Will Hulu survive? Of course it will. Alec Baldwin is their pitchman.

      Um. Really? It will survive because they put Alec Baldwin in a commercial?!?

      Perhaps for the first time in the history of Techdirt, you can admit a mistake and move on

      Heh, we admit mistakes all the time. Perhaps you can do so too. Reread the post and realize that we weren't knocking Hulu at all.

       

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    arby, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:14am

    Hulu

    I love it. It allowed me to catch up on missed episodes (mainly 30 Rock, The Office) after a 12 day blackout due to ice storm. Not all episodes are available in some cases, but the ones I missed were there. And, oh joy!, ALL episodes of Arrested Development are there, some without commercials, some with the option of watching one long one at the beginning, and none during the show.
    And, as Dave #14 alludes, very recent research has shown that people actually enjoy sitcoms more when they are interrupted by commercial breaks. It seems to give the brain time to recharge its funny appreciation circuits. It tends to make Alec Baldwin's brain-eating all that much more enjoyable. rb

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:17am

    Hulu is awesome

    Honestly I never even heard of boxee before the slashdot article about the removal of hulu.

    I have a computer connected to my television and I watch hulu on there. The image quality is great and it's free.

    My cable company can't seem to get my internet connection and the cable box working at the same time(apartment so they can't add a drop)so this is my alternative, that a my xbox360 with netflix streaming on it.

     

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    Joe Schmoe, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:35am

    As a technical/side note, HULU ought to take a gander at Netflix's online player.

    The netflix player is really nice in that it monitors playback and steps down the video quality upon congestion or if you have a lower speed DSL connection.

    The HULU player seems to have only one, high quality stream with no step down. I gave it a try, but had to pause it and come back to it after it had an opportunity to download the whole show in order to play it w/o buffer interruptions.

     

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    JBB, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    It all costs

    Content: Costs money to produce. Pay the actors, editors, film crew, travel to settings, etc. etc. It ain't cheap, it ain't easy. If it was, "amateur" sitcoms would be plentiful and pleasant.

    Variety: Costs money to provide. TV has a couple channels. Cable has hundreds. Obviously costs money to manage all that variety, so you can choose from it.

    Timely delivery: Costs money to provide. Everyone wants it at the same time. Otherwise they'd make one DVD and pass it around.

    Delivery quality: over-the-air is typically lower quality than by cable. That means running a lot of wire and maintaining it. Satellite? You think that's cheap to rocket one up there?

    Start-up funding: Think the "GreenTV" channel makes as much money as CBS? HBO? But it gets a lot of the same treatment on the cable network.

    Innovation funding: Say, do you like your high-speed internet? You wouldn't have it if all you paid the cable company was enough to cover costs of content. It isn't like 100% of that extra goes into the execs' pockets.

    Now, sure they want to make more money. That's what a company *does*. Are they going to pass up an opportunity to make some money? Not unless there's a better way to make more money some other way. If your employer offered you a raise, would you turn it down? If you could reasonably get more money from your employer (by asking for a raise, if you knew there were no bad consequences possible), would you pass up that opportunity?

     

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      pawn, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:04am

      Re: It all costs

      I actually think "amateur" content will be the problem for large TV companies in the future. You began to see a few things pop-up during the writers strike. Nothing overwhelming, but it was getting there.

      You see lots of amateur content succeeding already with a free web-based model. You have flash animations like homestar runner. You have short youtube shows like Chad Vader or The Guild. Speaking of Vader, have you seen the amateur lightsaber fights? They are better than any commercially made stuff.

      Doritos chips has used amateur content in its superbowl ads two years in a row. No one is making a case for the poor ad companies who lost out.

      All these things do cost, but slowly you are going to see a rise in amateur content. Just like music is cheap to record, video will be very shortly.

      At that point, your TV companies are competing with legally free content. They can see change coming and adjust their business strategy, or they can fail and beg for tax dollars.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:59am

        Re: Re: It all costs

        But amateur work will only get so good before the time/monetary cost force it to either stop improving or find a way to generate income from the work (at which point it becomes "pro").

        Some nice amateur diversions are fun. Some (many) pro diversions are crap. But on average, the production quality of pro material is vastly superior to the production quality of amateur material. (Note that I'm not talking about story quality, acting ability, etc., just production quality).

        As technology improves and becomes cheaper, the divide will likely shrink a bit ... but the "pro" side won't be sitting still. Amateur work will always be catching up to pro work.

         

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    Some IT Guy, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 7:39am

    I'm not paying $55/mo for Comcast....

    I just bought a new house and looked into the astronomical cost of cable television. Comcast is $55/mo for the standard TV package...why would I want to pay that when there is Hulu.com which offers pretty much every show I want to watch?

    I'll admit before I discovered Hulu (thanks to a co-worker of mine), I downloaded quite a few torrents of shows I had missed.

    The commercials really might not be that great but there is only 1 every 5-10 minutes, not nearly as long as the 2 minute plus interruptions of regular broadcasting.

     

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    Phillip, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    We are in an echo chamber

    Of course Hulu will survive. It is in its infancy as far as "regular people" are concerned. The majority of people using the Internet have no idea what hulu is and are very far from understanding what a torrent site is much less how to use it. I think that the revenue streams from hulu will start to pick up as more and more people learn about it. The site was not built for anyone who is taking the time to read or comment on this post it was built for your Luddite friends and relatives who would gladly sit through 2x the commercials to see the episode of "Heroes" they missed because of their kids soccer game.

     

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    Joe, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Hulu is good

    I don't see what the problem with hulu having advertising presence is. It is small commercial segments than on traditional TV, and overall a pretty solid experience. I do wish they had more content from the other broadcast networks like CBS and CW but I can live with what they offer.

    I spend at least 4 hours on hulu a week (granted i play it on my TV rather than my PC). and I really enjoy the service. I will admit though that they could use slightly better streaming technology as when playing on a large TV some content is frustrating to watch due to the stutter.

     

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    Diego Zenizo, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    No HULU outside USA

    With the stupid restrictions about where you can watch a DVD, subscribe to satellite TV, or receive a feed like HULU ONLY in the USA, this kind of restrictions only promote piracy.
    Take DVDs for example: If I PAY for a DVD, don't I have the right to watch it? Well, ONLY if you have a DVD Player enabled for the specific region. This is stupidity at its maximum: either I enable my player to paly all regions, or decode the DVD to burn a region-less copy.
    HULU will go the same way. I can setup a proxy in the USA to get my feeds, or I can download most programming from torrent servers WITHOUT commercials...

     

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    vic, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    hulu is awesome

    i dunno about any of u guys.. but i love hulu... i'm on this site every day and the commercial gives me a break to check my email/facebook/website whatever. I dont think u can get as good quality streaming all in one place anyhowz.. as for the people who say "the volume of the commercials are the same as the show itself.." umm... do u have any sense of time? this free legal site is awesome... nuff said...

     

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    Nate, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 8:41am

    I really like HULU

    I watch a lot of shows via this service, most of which I'd have to pirate to get otherwise.

     

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    Steve, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:34am

    I watched part of the final season of battlestar galactica on hulu, and it worked out great. The remaining episodes are coming out 8 days after airing instead of the next day. I pirated the last episode and it reminded me how convenient hulu is. I work every Friday night and I just want to watch my show the next morning. Is that so much to ask? Apparently not for the pirate bay!

     

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    Jon L (profile), Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    Content Creators are Hulu

    Well, don't get too far ahead of yourselves separating content creators from Hulu. In NBC's case, they ARE Hulu, and in the other cases, the content they're getting has the same restrictions the "Network" itself places on it. That means they demand from producers (usually) ALL worldwide rights, then CBS, NBC, ABC et. al decide how to section up those rights.

    On the backend of that, you have music rights that the producer has to pay for, that are often restricted by the deal - meaning that a producer with a limited budget will often buy rights to only broadcast a show with that music in the US - whereas Worldwide rights are just too expensive to obtain.

    As a matter of (distribution) fact, music rights are often the nail in the coffin for a lot of distributed media. When I was working with a digital division of a major media player in LA, we spent a full year attempting to assess how many cues in hundreds of hours of shows had to be recleared because of limited rights from the original production, and in the end, expanding those rights to cover digital distribution made putting those shows online, utterly impossible due to cost (we were talking over $60k per episode for a single song, in some cases).

    Getting copyright, back to being "right" would be a huge step in the right direction for new content going forward. (Creative Commons? Maybe...)

    Going backward, it would take a huge legal change for content creators to be able to simply publish everywhere and sort out royalties on the backend without having to go through hundreds of thousands of music cue sheets and renegotiating deals.

     

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    bluebearr, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 9:52am

    Hulu is good enough

    Most of my "TV-watching" happens through Hulu now. I gave up on broadcast TV because the commercial breaks are just too long anymore - nearly 1:2 commercials-to-content ratio. I was working my way through the free content available through my local public library when I met Hulu. Now I can watch shows I never would have thought to look at through Hulu, with very little advertising burden. It's great!

     

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    Noah Callaway, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 10:36am

    Just another vote...

    Just wanted to add my voice to those that love Hulu. I don't have cable television in my apartment. We simply connect our laptop to our 32" tv (which cost less than 6 months of cable) and watch Hulu over the internet.

    The ads are generally short and they have a pretty decent range of content.

     

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    James, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 10:37am

    beats paying for cable

    Maybe I'm in the minority, but ever since I left school and no longer had 6 roommates to split the cable bill with, cable seems ridiculously expensive for what it offers.

    Meanwhile enter Hulu - and to me I think they're doing a lot of things right. Myself I use Hulu not because it's legal or not, but because it's a great service and it's convenient.

    Case in point - their player widget that you can add to your google homepage. Seems like they went to a lot of effort to come up with a clean design that helps me keep tabs on their content. It has a small form factor which makes it unobtrusive at work, and when I want to watch something full screen I can.

    For some time I was just out of the TV loop - occasionally watching a series on DVD from netflix... but now with the convenience of Hulu I find myself actually keeping up on a few shows.

    btw - if you haven't seen the widget you can get it here for your iGoogle page

     

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    Rick, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    It's still working

    I introduced my 61 year old mother to Hulu a few weeks ago. The very next day, she calls me up to say she LOVED it and was amazed at all the shows, but she said she had to stop using it.

    Apparently, after a few days of watching shows, she felt guilty. She searched and searched for the link to 'pay' for the service, and since she couldn't find it - she thought I had shown her how to 'pirate' so she stopped immediately.

    After I explained to here it was free and it was supposed to be and then went on to tell her who actually owned and ran the site - she was overjoyed. She now watches more Hulu than TV.

    It was interesting to see the new Hulu ads start running on TV a few days later. It's also nice to see that they're actually entertaining too - I love the Alien Alec Baldwin one...

     

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    VPN'er, Feb 26th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    I love and hate Hulu

    I love hulu. It has some great shows and I can watch all of my favourites that are on TV at times that I cannot watch them. I can watch these shows for free over the air on broadcast tv normally (Mainly Fringe and House).

    However, I, not being a person living in the US have had to resort to VPN in order to access the doughy goodness of Hulu from my current location. I hate that I have to trick them into thinking I reside in the US just so I can watch shows that I can watch for free if I was available at those times.

    I either get it semi-legally through Hulu, completely legally by spending money I don't have on a dvr (or dvd set) or completely "illegally" through torrents.

    I'd love to use hulu in my current location, especially since it shares the same broadcast schedule as the US networks. Networks I, do, in fact, watch via broadcast tv (dtv built in tv = hooray). However, for some arbitrary and most likely bureaucratic reason I'm not allowed.

    All the similarities and none of the benefits all because of 2 miles of land difference... Great.

     

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    Weird Harold, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 5:10am

    Hulu - fixing a model that wasn't broken?

    Hulu proves if nothing else that you cannot build a business on trying to give away what the TV networks already give away for free. Television has spent 50 years teaching us that the price for free TV is a commercial break every 8 or 10 minutes, and we live with it (or pay extra for the HBO style experience). PVRs are more and more common, and in the zillion channel universe, it is likely that the Family Guy rerun you wanted to watch is already on this week some time.

    All the technology in the world cannot save a company that doesn't have a business model. The TV model isn't broken, and the networks are all moving forward to put much of their content online in commercial supported formats. 3 or 4 years ago, when the networks were still playing coy about putting content online, Hulu might have been an idea. It is no longer the case, and they appear to be a third wheel that fewer people need anymore.

    The other part is this: Much of TV's magic lies in the shared experiences, the things you talk about at the water cooler at work the next day. The superbowl wouldn't be the superbowl is people watched it whenever they have a chance, online, maybe only as a highlights package weeks later.

    Like "free", perhaps the Hulu Web2.0 business model is heading for the door?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:05am

    Who is getting paid . . .

    for old episodes of Magnum PI. Whoever it is, shouldnt be getting paid anylonger. There should be no expense related to this type of content except its physical delivery.

     

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      Tom, Mar 18th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

      Re: Who is getting paid . . .

      30 years ago you invented a thing-a-majig. While your thing-a-majig was being manufactured your company made 5 million of them. Then production was halted. Over the years you sold 4 million of them. You have a million left. Should you give them away for free just because they're 30 years old? Maybe I should give you my 1932 Packard roadster. Please.

       

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    hulu dude, Jul 18th, 2009 @ 1:11am

    Watch hulu anywhere, anytime, from any OS, Browser, or device

    I was browsing around for alternate ways to watch hulu. It looks like the only decent way to do it, is to purchase a private VPN account. I highly doubt hulu can ban them all. I purchased mine from www.hidemynet.com , they provide UK and US servers currently, so I can also login to the UK server to access online video offered in the UK :). Like, Iplayer, Channel 4 on demand, bbc, etc. And it's only 5$/month, beats having to deal with the hassles of using hotspot shield (which is now banned anyway).

     

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    Sandra, Jul 27th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    VPN service

    The best way to watch Hulu abroad is by using http://www.supervpn.net/
    Super VPN provides secure and anonymous surfing and any other Internet activity through VPN. Worldwide servers available.

     

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    rent a car Beograd, Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 8:57am

    rent a car Beograd

    I am also using http://www.supervpn.net/ and I am very satisfied with their services.

     

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    Superb VPN Services, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    VPN Services

    OpenVPN is the best solution for watching online TV programs.
    Greetings!

     

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    Crazy Mike photography, Apr 26th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Few VPN providers are actually able to stream HULU any longer since they have been blocked by all the upstream ISP's. I've worked with http://www.ivpn.net and OpenVPN to get it working from Brazil but I suspect it will be blocked totally in the near future.

     

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    JS, May 29th, 2012 @ 5:41am

    There are rumors that HULU will soon open in the UK. Till then, use this to unblock it: http://www.sunvpn.com/

     

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    Shaun Stevin, Jun 18th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: Is It Impossible For Hulu To Survive?

    To watch any geo restricted anywhere in world you need to use VPN to watch Hulu, Netflix US outside US anywhere in world. You can also watch iPlayer (BBC UK) outside UK with this service. http://www.purevpn.com/vpn-service/vpn-for-hulu-netflix-online-streaming.php

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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