I received a pleasant surprise this morning when I got a Hulu private beta invite to check out the site and write a review. There has been widespreadcoverage of the launch with mixed reviews. Mainly because NBC and News corp (Myspace owners) failed to pick a name for the project right up until the launch – they eventually settled on ‘Hulu’ which means “œcease“ and “œdesist“ in Swahili (apparently). Before Hulu was called “Clown co.” for not picking a name some called the site the “youtube killer”, not likely. There is no video sharing and very little user interaction besides creating your own play lists from all the titles available. Hulu is more an online distribution channel for premium video content, including TV shows, movies, and short clips which is all supplied by the big media houses such as NBC.
Content on Hulu such as TV shows will come from Fox and NBC, and over fifteen cable channels. Movies will come from Fox and Universal, and following a deal signed just this Friday, from Sony and MGM as well.
Hulu’s design is very impressive – minimalist, clean and sleek. Hulu has done a good job keeping the user interface simple and highlighting the actual content of the site. The video is high quality which is one positive it has compared to the compressed low quality videos you experience on Youtube and co.
Hulu also exists as a distribution network of premium video content for several online destinations – AOL, MSN, MySpace, Comcast, and Yahoo – that will display Hulu‘s videos for free but in their own branded players. In addition to these partnerships, users themselves form a viral distribution network for Hulu since they allow its videos to be embedded in any website and shared via email. Unfortunately, (for us) no videos can be downloaded from the site or from their media partners but only viewable through the web based flash player.
My first impressions of Hulu are satisfactory and I think the media had it all wrong about the project killing off other video sharing sites – It’s merely a destination to catch your favourite shows in case you missed it on the PVR the night before Hulu CEO, Jason Kilar, describes why Hulu?
“œObjectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we‘re building.“