February 6, 2009 § Leave a comment
MediaPost’s “Around the Net in Online Marketing” directed us to this story today about Hulu in The Economist. The upshot seems to be that Hulu may have broken the code on having a successful video business online, although the article is appropriately cautious at the end saying, “It’s too early to declare Hulu the winner.” (I suppose that means the winner over YouTube). From the sound of things Hulu is sold out of advertising space, which means prices should go up, which certainly sounds successful.
I was talking with someone about Hulu this week, however, who made a smart observation: Yes, Hulu is successful attracting an audience and selling some ads against it; but, does Hulu constitute a successful video model online in the way we ought to think about it? Is Hulu like TV?
Probably not. Hulu is a product of TV. Hulu is a line extension. TV develops the audience and Hulu simply adds value to it by letting The Office fans experience their favorite bits over and over again. Could Hulu develop an original program audience on its own worthy of sold-out sponsorship? Probably not. At least, not yet. Original video programming online has struggled to find a sponsor. It’s not for lack of audience; YouTube is big. So, it’s not device driven; Hulu proves people will sit in front of a computer screen to watch programs. The problem is simply the one that infects online media, generally, which is an umbilical attachment to the safety of offline media brands. It’s a fetal thing.
Eventually we’ll grow out of it. At that point Hulu may appear to lack the freshness and authenticity that would make it like – well – the Internet.