Media Analyst Calls Hulu 'Anti-American' For Providing Free Content

from the apparently,-she's-never-watch-TV dept

We see all sorts of confused analysis when it comes to how "free" works in economics -- which goes back to our assertion that the human brain tends to run into a mental block when it encounters a zero and rather than recognize the rest of the economic equation, it just pops out an error message. That's the only explanation I can find for the so-called analysis by Media Metrics' Laura Martin of how Hulu is "anti-consumer, anti-media employees, and even anti-America" and supposedly putting $300 billion worth of market value "at risk" (thanks Ben for sending this in).

Wait... what? Anti consumer? Offering consumers more of what they want at a better price is anti-consumer? How?

Anti-media employees? Offering a better product that can be better monetized through smarter means should be good for media employees.

Anti-America?!? How? Martin's claim is apparently "Media companies will lose a lot more revenue by giving shows away for free online than they will from pirates." Oh really? How does a person like Martin get and keep a job if that's her analysis? Apparently she's never heard of a little something we call "television" which has made a tremendous amount of money for years giving shows away for free and supporting it with ad dollars. Furthermore, the idea that media companies stand to lose more by competing with piracy by offering something better is the most twisted economic analysis we've heard in a long time (and, boy, we've heard some twisted economic analyses over the years). The fact is more and more people were moving to online to watch shows anyway. Pretending that didn't exist is economic suicide. Offering a better experience allows the networks to compete.

On top of that, Martin apparently hasn't looked at much of the actual research out there if she thinks that online shows are somehow cannibalizing TV revenue. In fact, most studies have found the opposite. They've found that putting shows online for free helps make the audience more engaged and convinces more people to watch the shows on TV, because if they miss an episode they can just catch up online.

It's hard to fathom how any media analyst in this day and age can actually think that using "free" as a part of your business model is not just a "bad idea" but "anti-consumer" or "anti-America." If you don't understand basic media economics, how can you be a media analyst?

Filed Under: analyst, business models, economics, free, laura martin, media
Companies: hulu


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  1. identicon
    Bob, 15 Jun 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Hulu is commercial

    1) Hulu already has commercials before most if not all shows

    2) By providing "exclusive" content for a time, and then taking it away, you encourage people to pay for it (buy/ rent the DVDs) Its called creating scarcity, but we can call it the HBO model. Its why they serve some of the content On Demand, but never enough to finish the season you're watching. Lots of shows have started to use this model. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia for example, runs shows on FX and Hulu for a limited time, and then make it harder to get, forcing people to buy, rent, or maybe pirate it to watch it afterwards.

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