Hulu vs. The Daily Show

Posted in Spritely by Dimitri on March 3, 2010

Viacom has announced that they will be removing 2 of Hulu’s top watched shows from the service. The shows will be able to be seen on the Comedy Central website, not Hulu.

The reason that they made this change was that Hulu’s model of monetization is that Hulu sells ads for it’s media partners, and splits the revenue with the media partners. Since Viacom feels that their Comedy Central programs will draw a similar audience when siloed away in their backyard, they have simply decided to cut out Hulu’s share of the ad dollar pie, and sell their own ads.

Meanwhile, it’s STILL Hulu’s policy not to allow it’s content to be shown outside of it’s own players. So brilliant startups like Boxee have to fight Hulu every step of the way to make the process work.

Now here’s what I don’t get. It’s clear to me that the only people in this whole equation that “get it” are the people at Boxee. They realized that people want their video in one place. Whether that video is supported by ads doesn’t matter to Boxee, since Boxee will faithfully show ads for any of the services that they tap into. If you go watch a Fox TV show on Boxee, you will see Fox ads. If you watch a Hulu show, you will see Hulu ads.

Wasn’t this the original purpose of Hulu? To bring our content all together in one place?

Clearly everyone needs to get paid. Content creators need to get paid to make the content. Distributors/aggregators need to get paid to run their services too. But since the people of Earth have long been happy to loan out their eyeballs to advertisers for a few minutes each hour of content, doesn’t this provide a rather easy solution?

I think content providers need to start providing their shows to anyone who wants to rebroadcast them, for free. But the catch is, they should be able to embed the very same ads that they would have otherwise shown.

A show distributor (Hulu, Apple, whoever) would then take this feed, with ads, and display it. They could get paid by using ads on the service (video overlays, text ads around the video) or by embedding an additional ad in the stream. Content owners could then set restrictions on the ads that could be embedded in their content (how many, what kind, no porn, etc.)

This model would be similar to the way that national TV and radio stations give up some of their advertising time to local outlets. It’s basically the same exact model. But for some reason, since the TV companies feel that they don’t have control over those rebroadcasting their content, they all feel the need to handle it themselves, which hurts the experience of watching TV for everyone.

For one second, content providers need to put themselves into their customer’s shoes. We’re not watching TV just on TV’s anymore. And as time goes on, people are no longer thinking of a TV as a TV, but rather as just another screen with an internet connection attached. It’s the future. We’re still willing to watch ads. But at this point, changing over to comedycentral.com takes as much time as getting up and adjusting the rabbit ears on the TV in order to pick up CBS instead of NBC. It’s unwieldy and unnecessary.

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