Last week, NBC Universal and News Corp launched Hulu, a video sharing site with completely free, legal clips from the likes of Fox, NBC, MGM, Sony, Warner Bros., and Lionsgate. Users can log on to catch full-length episodes of current primetime television shows such as The Simpsons and The Office the morning after they air. “Classics” like Miami Vice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are also up for grabs, as are clips from Saturday Night Live, Nip/Tuck, and many others others. Hulu also offers full-length feature films like The Usual Suspects, Ice Age, and The Big Lebowski, in addition to clips from films such as Napoleon Dynamite, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Devil Wears Prada, and many more. Hulu is free and ad-supported – and it’s available 24/7 for anyone with a broadband connection in the U.S.
While the two media giants could have just partnered with YouTube to distribute online content (the site has the same basic “embed” functionality that made YouTube so popular), their decision to launch a proprietary online video player gives them more control over the user’s experience. Hulu offers users a variety of viewing options (full-screen, pop-out), and is even working on adding High-Def streaming video. Also, since the site is owned and controlled by the media companies themselves, there’s no potential for dispute over ad revenue.
The site is definitely worth checking out – NBC and Newscorp certainly put a lot of thought and effort into the site, and it shows.