Heard of Hulu yet? Well, you may have heard that NBC has pulled their content from iTunes and YouTube. So their plan was to create their own YouTube with their content and ads and social features. NBC’s original plan was to get other networks to join up and put their content on this site. The only one that did was Fox. Hulu is the result of their efforts.
It recently launched in beta, and I signed up to receive beta access to the site. Yesterday, I received a login to the beta website. The press has given NBC a lot of crap about this idea, and I have to say they deserved it. However, my first impression of the site is that it is pretty freakin’ awesome. The implementation is great! I’m watching the most recent episode on Family Guy right now. The video quality is great. They do force you to watch ads though, although they are fairly short, but the site is otherwise free to use.
I tested it out at work, and I felt the need to say make sure you have a fast connection. I have a faster connection at home than at work, and at work it was very jumpy because it wasn’t downloading it fast enough.
I haven’t really tested out many of the social features, but I will continue to play around with the site. It looks like you can pop out the video and play it in its own window. There is also a sharing feature and a feature to make the video play fullscreen. It also looks like the videos are embeddable. I played around with adding it to this post, and it worked but it was breaking the layout of the page so I left it out. It looks like a good feature though.
Hulu has current hit shows like The Office, Prison Break, The Simpsons, Heroes, and many more. You’ll also find a large number of classic television series, including Arrested Development, Miami Vice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The A-Team. In addition, they are including movies in the beta with an initial selection of feature films that includes Conan the Barbarian, Sideways and The Blues Brothers. What they aren’t telling you is that content is only available for five weeks. I understand that applies to new shows, but I’m not sure how that applies to older shows and movies. My question is with this time limit how are they going to handle the content expiration dates while the writer’s strike is on and there are no new episodes. Seems like they should get rid of the expiration date and use it to their advantage by telling people they can go online and watch back episodes while the strike is going on.
So far I think Hulu is great. Although I’m not sure how much time I will spend watching episodes I have already seen on TV, again on the web. It may be more useful if my friends are using it. Once it gets out of beta, NBC and Fox need to promote the hell out of it to make this work. Hulu is a huge gamble for NBC. Time will tell whether or not it pays off for them, or whether they should have stuck with iTunes and YouTube.