Some of us have heard of it, many have not. The brainchild of media conglomerates NBC and Fox, Hulu started beta testing their site towards the end of last year, and I recently received my beta login. My feelings are mixed.
First of all, no, I am not one of those elitist writer types who is going to sit here and pretend I don’t watch TV. I do. And despite the claims of critics over the last year or so (the folks at Google/YouTube reportedly dubbed it “Clown Co.“), I think Hulu is a great idea. As someone who recently ditched their cable box in favor of a DVD-by-mail service, only to find myself watching more TV than I did when I had cable (umm, what??), Hulu is a great way to catch some of my favorite network shows (Family Guy, Grey’s Anatomy, House, The Simpsons, etc.). I’ve only had the beta login for a week or so and while I’m not one to remain glued to the television set (which is why I tend to miss most of my favorite shows), a little Simpsons on demand after work now and then is a great way to unwind.
At any rate, Hulu has gone under attack in the blogosphere for countless reasons, some of which I think are semi-legitimate (how can it compete with YouTube?) and some not (Hulu means “butt” in Indonesian. Really? Really?).
My biggest complaint? There are no music videos (there are 3 or 4 “excerpts,” but that doesn’t count). I get that most of us go to YouTube to watch music videos and live performances of our favorite bands, and even though the video and sound quality is often less than stellar, we do it anyway — we love our YouTube. Still, in my opinion Hulu’s main attraction is the fact that the content is so well-organized (and the design is pretty rad, too). What you see is essentially what you get – it’s all right there in front of you, minus the distractions of YouTube.
You want to watch House? Search “House” and you’ll get a list of episodes.
You want to watch Grey’s Anatomy? Do a search for it and you’ll get linked to the episodes available at ABC.com. No, Hulu isn’t hosting that content themselves, and yes, I could do a Google search for “Grey’s Anatomy” or go to ABC.com – but why bother? All I need to do is login to one website to find what I want. Brilliant.
Now, what would make Hulu even better? A nice and hefty selection of music content. Add that to the Hulu library, and YouTube may very well become a distant memory from the past.
But that’s just my opinion. There are die-hard YouTube fanatics out there who think the that user controlled content is where it’s at – frankly, I don’t. If I want my friends or colleagues to see a video, I’ll post it in my blog, send it in an e-mail, or link them up via IM. I don’t need to make YouTube money by posting my favorite content on their site. If I was making my own videos and trying to get famous doing it, well, that it would be an entirely different story. But we’re talking about professionally produced content here, and, assuming whatever fee they end up charging isn’t outrageous, with a little development and a sizable expansion of their content library, Hulu just might kick YouTube out of the water.
Snicker as you must, post your remarks below. I know you’re thinking them.