I’ve subscribed to the beta of Hula – but no invite yet, probably because I’m UK based. Although I’m thinking of re-subscribing through a proxy, if I can be bothered!
However, others have had their invite and Om Malik has just done a hands on Hula review.
Having been pretty skeptical all summer about the Hula service his review makes clear he eats every word he said.
For those who aren’t sure what Hula is it’s a streaming video portal showing major NBC shows and golden oldies such as:
- The Office
- Prison Break
- The Simpsons
- Arrested Development
- Miami Vice
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The A-Team
It’s backed by the TV studios and given what Om says in his review would be a no brainer to decimate YouTube.
However, I think YouTube will continue to thrive while Hula uses its current business model.
And the reasons are:
- Hula only provides streaming video so you can’t download to a personal DVR or burn to a DVD and watch elsewhere
- Hula is only available in the USA whereas YouTube is worldwide
- You can take clips and insert them in blogs and web sites but they’re taken down after so many weeks leaving blank spots in blog posts or web site pages
- NBC dropped their content from iTunes which will increase the piracy of their TV shows outside the USA and make people feel piracy is OK
And there’s one comment amongst hundreds on the Hula site that is very thoughtful and useful. I’ve excerpted it here:
John G Says:
October 30th, 2007 at 11:15 AM It is clear from reading other comments here that there is HUGE demand for Hulu to be an international platform. The challenge that entertainment companies have is that they have distribution agreements which prevent this. However, I was working with IBM on their website strategy ten years ago when they faced a similar dilemma. IBM didn’t want to sell computers directly online because it would conflict with their channel partners. However, as we have seen, it is inevitable that businesses accept this customer demand. Once IBM started selling directly online they realized great sales and none of their distribution partners bailed on them. We have lived with the Internet long enough to realize that the best business models start with a global model. That is truly missing here. Often entertainment companies think that the English language websites are only of interest to the US market. This is far from the truth, though. When I was working with DreamWorks Animation on their website, we discovered that a full 40% of visitors to their website were from outside of the US. That is a market share that one can’t ignore. What Hulu needs to do is to use an ad insertion technology that allows them to target the ads in the shows towards the local markets, but to not restrict viewing by geography.