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Image courtesy of Samstores.com

Image courtesy of Samstores.com

Back in early 2008, Hulu launched in beta to a horde of naysayers and early adopters with high-hopes. Over a year and a half later Hulu is the 3rd most popular online video site, and despite YouTube’s #1 position in the online video space and its relatively massive distribution in comparison with Hulu, Hulu has seen more success at online video monetization, and continues to expand.

With more people ditching their cable service in the name of savings and/or convenience and opting to watch their favorite shows online, networks are adding premium content to their websites and sharing much of that content with Hulu. Despite this seemingly symbiotic relationship, networks are not prepared to bring all their content online, while cable providers have to deal with complicated restrictions regarding what they can air for free. Add to the pot the increasingly popularity of DVRs making it possible for cable TV subscribers to ignore ads altogether and cut into networks’ profits, and the fate of cable TV is nebulous.

Photo courtesy of tothepc.com

Photo courtesy of tothepc.com

The latest shake up comes with the introduction of Hulu’s new desktop application, one that allows users to transform their computers into a simulated TV and browse Hulu’s web content with a compatible remote control, like the one from Windows Media Player, for example.

Will the ease-of-use factor encourage more cable subscribers to cancel their service? Maybe, in the future. Some people may not be willing to give up access to their favorite cable stations and many haven’t figured out how to get free HD TV. But if more people realize they can ditch their cable bill in favor of free HD access to non-cable programming and varied access to cable and non-cable shows via sites like Hulu and the forthcoming Epix , cable networks may find themselves struggling to compete in a market that is slowly pushing its product into obscurity.

Clearly it is time to innovate. But I don’t anticipate the cable networks going down without a fight.

What do you think of the move towards online media consumption? Is there any reason you would keep your cable box? Is this just another example of big media blatantly ignoring the signs of the times, or does the ad-supported TV model make adapting more difficult than it looks? Post your thoughts below!


10 thoughts on “Hulu Desktop App Challenges Cable Networks
  1. edwin says:

    I love Hulu desktop. I already use it 10 times as often as I do my cable box.

  2. Lauren says:

    I’m one of those people who hasn’t figured out how to get free HD TV, and now I know how, sweet! Hulu Desktop sounds like a winner, I think Time Warner Cable betta watch its back!!

  3. Adria says:

    Woohoo, Hulu!

  4. I like that the Hulu desktop graphic employs Hugh Laurie’s likeness. I think that coupled with the fact that I can watch House on demand is reason enough to download and install.

    I love Hugh Laurie, and I love Hulu.

  5. Gabriel says:

    I have heard of HULU, but never knew of this FREE CABLE deal…I am getting ripped off every month! I’m done with silly dishes!

  6. Alison Quinn says:

    I can’t wait for the day when the cable companies are no longer! Anyone else with me on that?? I love Hulu and now that I just figured out how to watch the internet tv on my real tv (thanks for the helpful link Amanda!) I’ll be using Hulu even more than before!

    Oh also, nice shout out to Hugh Laurie in your previous comment Amanda! Gotta love House!

  7. Tom says:

    What sucks about Hulu (etc.) is the geographic content restrictions. When on travel outside the US, shows that I would normally watch via Hulu are not available to me.

    What’s amusing is that, such restrictions have created a new reason for people to purchase personal internet servers. At least one ISP I deal with has found that a number of their non-US customers are buying US-based (virtual) servers so that they can proxy their (Hulu, et. al.) content requests and bypass the geographic restrictions.

  8. birdman says:

    The hell with Hulu. It is absolutely ridiculous that it is only allowed to be watched within the US.
    Sites that pull this sort of nonsense should be boycotted.
    There should be no geographical boundaries on the Internet.
    That is a throwback to the old days and old technological limitations.

  9. Matt M says:

    We don’t have cable at my house, just FIOS internet and a computer hooked up to the TV. Thank goodness for Hulu.

  10. Did I mention I love Hulu? The latest episode of House is awesome. I didn’t love the season premiere, but its already getting better. Between Hulu and Netflix, I’m all set. Although I admit I am missing out on Curb and Bored to Death. Waaa.

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