Hulu is on the frontlines, a lone mercenary battling in an ongoing war between content creators, cable-companies and national networks. Hulu is one of the most innovative ways that we watch television on the internet and it’s in a state of peril.
Hulu’s uncertain future began a few months ago, after two of the company’s leading executives announced their plans to leave. Those two executives were Jason Kilar the chief executive officer and Tom Rich, the chief technology officer. Hulu is owned by a few of the most powerful media companies in the world; those companies are News Corp., Comcast and Disney. These giants have been working together in a massive effort to bring television content online for almost a decade now.
Rumors of Hulu’s uncertain fate began swirling once again last Friday, after it was reported by the Wall Street Journal (which is part of the Consumer Media Group, which is part of Dow Jones & Company, which is part of New Corp.) stated that both News Corp. and Disney might be planning to either buyout the other’s share of the company, or sell their own shares and leave Hulu all together. What is the sticking point in their cooperation you ask? Free content on the internet of course.
According to the report, Disney hopes to build upon the traditional ad-supported media layout that made Hulu such a popular service, while News Corp. is trying to enlarge the subscription model and offer more content to paid subscribers (estimated at 3 million) and diminish the ad-supported media layout over time.
Hulu took the internet by storm when it was first launched in 2007. It was only because of the two major media moguls invested in the project (News Corp. and NBC) that the service was even able to get the television content that they needed to run the site. If the jump from television to the internet wasn’t as instant as it was, odds are there wouldn’t be a Hulu right now. Each network could have forecasted the trend and prepared their own sites to stream their content for viewers. Now everyone is accustomed to Hulu and the convenience and developer support that Hulu has behind it, is often too tempting for larger companies to pass up. That being said, it shouldn’t imply that it could never haven.
What Hulu really represents is the digital renaissance and a hope that one day we will no longer need cable-subscriptions to watch content (we may need Hulu subscriptions) but in the future both networks and content creators might have one less barrier between them and the viewers by skirting regional cable companies all together. Hulu is our best chance for that scenario to take place, if it fails it could set the movement back for years. Cable television itself is in a desperate need of an innovation of its own. Viewer tracking components, the time-slots model and the hurdles a Netwok must face when launching a new channel, will all be reinvented with a stronger push towards internet-streaming.
Show lead-ins, what time and day of the week a show is scheduled to air and the marketing behind each show can greatly affect a shows outcome. With a stronger push toward’s online digital content, either through internet-ready televisions or through PCs, laptops and mobile devices, more shows may be saved from cancelation. It’s unclear at this point what will become of Hulu, or if the service would thrive or die-out if a new third-party obtains the majority in the company. In both cases, Hulu needs to survive. It’s one of the greatest weapons in the fight for free online television content and currently one of the leaders of the television revolution.