Hulu is hard at work transforming tv-watching into a social experience. They're encouraging viewers to watch the premiers of their favorite programs on Facebook with friends and strangers alike, sharing comments with one another (and with eavesdropping marketers) through streaming status updates. Judging whether television watching can be a social activity based on these efforts alone is to consider only a fraction of the social relationships possible around content sharing. The key players aren't thinking big enough yet. Fully realizing social TV's potential means rethinking all aspects of television watching, distribution and revenue models, and how each can become more social.
The world of branded content has changed. Suddenly branded movies and TV shows are competing for the same marketing dollar and chunk of free time as everything else in the entertainment world. Advertising, in many cases, is no longer a toll you pay to watch content but is taking the form of content itself.
During the Super Bowl on Sunday, advertisers will deploy talking animals and A-list endorsers, anything to reach the 100 million Americans expected to be watching. But Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-growing restaurant chain, is playing a different advertising game. Building on its unconventional marketing tactics, Chipotle next month will release “Farmed and Dangerous,” a four-part comedy series on the TV-streaming service Hulu that takes a satirical look at industrial-scale farming.
Hulu could soon start requiring its users to prove that they also have a cable or satellite subscription. This would obviously turn Hulu’s current business model on its head. It’s not clear how many of the service’s 31 million users currently don’t subscribe to cable TV, but chances are that the service’s audience would shrink after this move.
Spotify and Hulu are among the companies that have taken advantage of the Facebook Timeline format to create long histories despite their relative youth. It’s an accessible form of brand content, but what happens when the novelty wears off?
TV continues to be the sledgehammer of political campaigns, with even the most digital-oriented candidates, like Scott Brown, who ran for a Senate seat in Massachusetts in 2010, only spending about 10% of their media budgets online. But that percentage is expected to inch upward in the 2012 election cycle, and sites like Hulu stand to benefit as media buyers look to buy political spots in competitive districts in expensive media markets.
Apple television rumors have swirled for years. But only now do we know that when speaking to his official biographer, Steve Jobs was keen to reinvent the television. And after ages trying to polish it into a user-friendly interface to video content he finally felt he'd "cracked it." Excitement has grown quickly since this revelation, but one analyst--Gene Munster--has checked with his sources and says that test HDTV prototypes are already in the pipeline, suggesting the device could be en route sooner than we thought.
You could argue Warner Bros.' test to rent, and soon sell, "The Dark Knight" and other films on Facebook is just another promotional deal on the world's largest social network. But it isn't, and that's why it sent shivers through the media industry: not for what the deal is today but for what it could easily mean.
The big question for anyone in television is how to get in front of - rather than be trampled by - the onslaught of seminal change coming from a multitude of places. This year's fall television season unfolds against an increasingly connected world and consumer indifference to how and where they access network fare. Many will access the programs they want to see streaming online from network Web sites and third parties, such as Apple's iTunes.
Hulu LLC announced a new paid subscription service for watching TV shows on computers, mobile devices and televisions, potentially creating a battle with cable-television operators that are planning similar services. Called Hulu Plus, the offering will initially be available only to invited subscribers for $9.99 a month. The paid service comes on top of the TV episodes that remain free to watch on Hulu.com.
Hulu, the popular and free online video hub, has some things to celebrate as it heads into its third year. The site, a venture of NBC Universal, the News Corporation and the Walt Disney Company, has been profitable for two quarters, Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, said in an interview on Monday. Hulu has successfully brought online TV into the mainstream. And now it appears set to move beyond standard computer screens with an application for Apple’s iPad, four people briefed on its plans said. But there are signs of dissatisfaction in Hulu’s house.
Hulu is everyone's favorite provider of TV on the web, but it's facing an ideological battle over its future. On one side are its network backers, which would like Hulu to become a paid service. On the other is the advertising community, which would like to keep Hulu free as a test-bed for new targeted-ad formats that can't be skipped. It's an important issue, because any debate about Hulu is a debate about the future of purely ad-supported TV, which is increasingly becoming an endangered species.
The latest retransmission fee rift between Walt Disney's WABC-TV and Cablevision, as well as Viacom yanking its popular "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" from Hulu over ad revenue-sharing, strengthens the argument for a la carte content -- allowing consumers to pay for just what they want, when they want. The complex sphere of content economics is being fractured by continuous conflict and experimentation by bundling cable operators and other content aggregators at one end of the spectrum and iTunes and Netflix paid downloads on the other.
In the first major fracture between television show owners and the wildly popular Hulu.com, Viacom will remove “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and other Comedy Central programs from the video site next week. The companies said Tuesday evening that they were parting amicably, but Viacom’s decision is a serious loss for Hulu. This week “The Daily Show” is listed as the third-most-watched show on the site, behind “Lost” and “Family Guy.” The decision also highlights the large gulf between the expectations of consumers — who demand a wealth of free and easily accessible content on the Internet — and the media companies, who are seeking a more profitable business model online.
Aiming to wrest more advertising revenue from online video, several companies, led by ad giant Publicis Groupe and including Microsoft, Yahoo, CBS and Hulu, have spent the past year testing online-ad formats to figure out what consumers want. It turns out they want choice. Tests found that "ad selector," a format that lets online-video watchers pick one of three companies' ads to watch, outscored other ad formats, including the much-maligned "pre-roll" ads that consumers are often required to see before viewing online video clips.
Buying Super Bowl ads has helped catapult companies like online brokerage E*Trade Financial, Internet job board Monster.com and video site Hulu into the public eye. That's why several little-known advertisers—including mobile pay-TV firm Flo TV, information provider KGB and vacation rental service HomeAway.com—are forking over millions of dollars to appear on this year's Big Game broadcast.
Media companies would be better off handing their online video activities to Google’s YouTube video-sharing site than pursuing home-grown efforts such as Hulu.com and the US cable industry’s TV Everywhere initiative, according to senior Google executives.
Warner Music Group has become the second major label to strike a content licensing deal with online video hub Hulu. The agreement brings music videos, concert performances, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to artist-branded pages within the Hulu site. The first implementation of this deal is a Muse-branded page on the Hulu site, which currently features a Saturday Night Live appearance, several performances captured during a tour stop in Wembley Stadium, along with some interviews and deep-catalog videos. Next up are Jason Mraz and Paramore, with additional artists coming online in the new year.
Since its launch in late 2007, Hulu has pretty much defined the Old Media vision of video on the Web. Each month the site's 1,700-title catalog of TV shows and movies attracts nearly 40 million viewers—people who will endure a couple of commercials per sitcom (vs. eight or more on TV) in exchange for the luxury of being able to watch a show for free, just one day after it airs on network TV. Those days may now be coming to an end. NBC, Fox, and ABC, the broadcasters that control Hulu, are warming to the idea of charging for at least some content.
Hulu is starting to show signs of why it’s not easy to run a joint venture between competitors. Recently, the popular video site’s various parents have sent mixed messages about Hulu’s future business model -- and whether or not it will erect some sort of paid subscription wall. Now, reports are bubbling up about an increasing level of discord between Hulu’s own ad sales staff and the staffs of each of the site’s broadcast partners: ABC, NBC and Fox.
Hulu has shot down reports that it planned to start charging users, at least for the majority of its content. News Corp deputy chairman Chase Carey (shown) was quoted at a conference today saying the video service would be charging users in 2010, though "some" content would remain free. News Corp is a part owner of Hulu. "I think a free model is a very difficult way to capture the value of our content. I think what we need to do is deliver that content to consumers in a way where they will appreciate the value," Carey was quoted as saying by Broadcasting & Cable. A Hulu rep said the company's strategy of offering high-quality content supported by advertising remains unchanged, while leaving the door to adding paid content.
Even for Hollywood, where long odds and high stakes are staples of storytelling, the plotline is a doozy: A couple of old business rivals facing the threat of a lifetime agree to put aside their differences and join forces on a half-baked experiment that makes them laughingstocks. (We're thinking Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.) And who do they put in charge? A young guy, a newbie to the biz. He promptly cleans house and hires an even younger guy who's halfway around the globe. These renegades throw out the rule book -- and they pull it off. Their idea kills. The naysayers feast on crow. This pitch meeting would not end well. Cue Ari Gold: Nobody'll believe it, not in a million years. Are you nuts? Get the %*#$ out of my office! Yet this is the tale of Jason Kilar and a company called Hulu, costarring the heads of NBC and Fox, with guest appearances by Andy Samberg, Tina Fey, Jeff Bezos, and Walt Disney.
Television is going cross-platform. Video content is becoming unshackled from the broadcast transmission towers, terrestrial coaxial cable plant and the living room television sets of old. While the business models for Web-distributed video are far from developed and proven, video content creators and producers can now use the Internet to deliver their programming directly to the vast majority of U.S. households. This trend is already impacting the television industry in a significant and disruptive way, and its effect is intensifying. Many companies are now taking steps to try to control their destiny in a future where TV can be consumed "everywhere," on a multitude of different and widely distributed devices and platforms. So today, I am going to discuss my thoughts on how this future might play out -- who might find the elusive business model for profitable cross-platform video scale, and who might not.
Last night Hulu continued their partnership with Facebook to allow people to watch the premiere of highly anticipated Fall TV shows such as Heroes and The Office with their Facebook friends through a "social TV" app. With this latest effort, they are trying to popularize a concept that has been talked about among the techno-elite for some time ... the idea that people could watch programming in a live stream online with friends and have a real time conversation about it as it was happening. In preparation for this blog post, I was all set to register for the event on Facebook and login at 8pm to watch the premiere of The Simpsons with any of my Facebook contacts who happen to be also watching it live. Unfortunately, that plan failed. My personal failure, however, offers a glimpse for marketers into what the true potential of social TV might be - and why there is so much skepticism and debate about whether it constitutes a real revolution in the world of entertainment, or is just another solution for a nonexistent problem by an industry increasingly desperate to find new revenue models.
Outdoor footwear and apparel company Timberland has launched a multifaceted campaign that includes a TV ad by London shop Leagas Delaney that casts a trail runner as "bait" for wolves, a wild boar and a hungry bear. Along with the pulse-pounding, cinematic spot, the effort from the client also features iPhone and Blackberry applications and games; interactive billboards; Hulu videos; sidewalk graffiti; customizable Pandora radio stations; and a Harvard Square subway station takeover in Cambridge, Mass., not far from the client's Stratham, N.H., headquarters.
Google Inc.'s YouTube is in discussions with major movie studios about streaming movies on a rental basis, a test of whether the online video giant can persuade its millions of users to pay for premium content. For Hollywood, the move could represent a bold attempt to offset its dwindling DVD sales with online revenue.
Why were so many people in the technology world wrong about Hulu? It was an idea that seemed like a relic of the worst excesses of the dot-com era: a portal for content run by a joint venture of media companies. Could any venture have more going against it?
Television programs such as “The Simpsons” and “CSI” are for the first time commanding higher advertising rates at Web sites including Hulu.com and TV.com than on prime-time TV.
In a sign of Hulu's growing clout for building brands, Pepsi has crafted retro-themed spots to run with Hulu's selection of shows from the 1970s and '80s. The 15-second ads promote "Pepsi Throwback," a beverage launched in April to tap into the nostalgia market. It features packaging reminiscent of '70s designs -- and uses real sugar like the soft-drink recipe did 40 years ago.
Hulu, the online TV service launched two years ago by Fox and NBC, has enjoyed incredible success with viewers — too much, it may turn out.
Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has opened up online video to the masses. Its embedding and sharing features helped make thousands of viral of videos. Today, YouTube has over 100 million unique viewers every month for everything from cute kittens to university lectures. Innovation and change in the social media space occurs lightning fast, though. YouTube, once without rival, is feeling the heat from new competitors, primarily the fast-growing Hulu. Other innovations, like live streaming video, are also ratcheting up the online video stakes. So where exactly is online video headed? Let’s talk about the YouTube and Hulu models.
The growing popularity of free video-viewing site Hulu could test the viability of Apple's pay-as-you-go iTunes download business.
Music videos started life online as giveaways to win bands new fans — much as they did when MTV actually showed videos. But now, as the future of music sales seems dim, music labels see gold in what they used to handout for free. The change started about five years ago when labels began charging distributors for the right to show videos. Then the rise of YouTube brought enormous exposure for music videos online, but record labels claim YouTube’s payouts are skimpy.
Consider, for a moment, what would happen if the identities, geographies and surfing histories of a large number of internet users suddenly became invisible. Yahoo and Google would not be able to target them with advertising based on demographics or behavior. Hulu would have a hard time blocking people from outside the U.S. from watching "30 Rock." The International Olympic Committee would not be able to sell different web rights in different countries. China wouldn't be able to censor YouTube. In short, much of the infrastructure of online advertising and international TV syndication -- let alone the ability of authoritarian regimes to control the web -- would break down.
Disney and YouTube are in the final stages of negotiations to put clips from ESPN, ABC and other Disney assets on YouTube, according to sources familiar with the situation. The two companies would share revenue, with Disney controlling the ad inventory; YouTube and Google could get some inventory to sell. As important, YouTube would refer back to ESPN.com, ABC.com and the other Disney sites. Disney declined comment; a YouTube spokesman said the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.
Brains! That must be the secret to Hulu rocketing up to being the fourth largest video site in the U.S. in February, right? That's what Alec Baldwin told us in this creative Super Bowl ad, which may also have had something to do with the video site's healthy traffic bump last month. Of course, it could have been the high-quality content--from Fox and NBC, as well as TV shows and movies from more than 120 sources, from the Food Network to Paramount Pictures.
Why does the TV industry need to keep Web video off your big-screen TV? Not because it hates technology. But because it hasn't figured out how to make money off Web video yet -- and needs you to keep watching TV on your TV.
Progress isn't all breakout products and scientific coups. In fact, some of the most salient indicators of the direction of technology come in re-directions of products and services we use every day. Here are seven subtle changes to the tech landscape that hint of bigger things to come.
How can Hulu and similiar online TV network video portals be improved? At the recent Association of National Advertisers' TV & Everything Video Forum, the question was put to eMarketer CEO Geoffrey Ramsey. He spends his days immersed in data reports about online consumer behavior and reactions. He gave the networks high marks for launching portals like Hulu but noted how those sites needed to improve their advertising structures and practices.
The Internet-video site Hulu is adding social-networking functions in hopes of building user loyalty and mining data to attract more advertisers.
The American Association of Advertising Agencies' Media Conference & Tradeshow this year is focused on discovering changing consumer habits, so attendees were treated to three panels made up of New Orleans residents -- young adults, baby boomers and women 25 to 54 -- who offered their thoughts on everything from from social media and Hulu to their web usage and what advertisers are doing right and wrong.
You know the names, but do you know where those names came from? Here are the stories behind the naming of TiVo, BlackBerry and more – including what they were almost called.
There's nothing connecting Hulu's decisions to pull out of TV.com and Boxee on the same day, according to sources close to the company. Hulu's managers were motivated by very different reasons in each case, said the sources (TV.com is owned by CBS, parent company of CNET News). Nonetheless, the decision to dump Boxee is bad for the start-up, for Web video fans, and for Hulu.
Fresh from removing content from TV.com, Hulu has now requested that Boxee, the maker of media-center software, stop making Hulu's videos available, according to a statement posted to Boxee's blog.
The Adidas-branded video service, slated to roll out starting this week, lives at its own Internet hub. But in a nod to the vogue for sharing online content, it is designed to spread Adidas video across the Web.
When NBC Universal and News Corp. created Hulu, they gave the video portal a valuable but short-term asset: exclusive rights to distribute NBC and Fox shows outside of the media giants' own websites. From that base of content, Hulu.com has become the fourth-biggest online video distributor by unique visitors in January, behind YouTube, Yahoo and MySpace, according to the latest from Nielsen VideoCensus.
In the spring of 2007 Jason Kilar was trying to beef up the video offerings of his employer, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, when he got a call from a headhunting firm. Would he consider running Hulu, a new joint venture by two “old media” giants, NBC Universal and News Corp? The idea was to enter the confusing online-video market by starting a service from scratch—and doing it properly. Mr Kilar said yes.
When Corey Wynsma's wife got laid off a few months ago from her graphic design job, the couple did an inventory of their household budget. Cable TV seemed like an obvious luxury. So the couple, who live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, canceled their cable service and found another way to keep up with their favorite shows: on the Internet.
Despite the mostly weak display of conceptual and copywriting prowess (if you can call it that) that was this year's crop of Super Bowl ads, one ad that stood out in the mind of this creative director as being particularly useless was the Alec Baldwin shill for NBC/FOX's Hulu online video platform. What a lost opportunity.
Here's something that just came into my inbox, and presumably the inboxes of the rest of the digital-media press corps: an e-mail from the media team at Hulu, the joint video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp., announcing that the company will be running an ad during Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII. It sounds like Hulu is really hoping to make a splash along the lines of Apple's landmark "1984" ad that aired 25 years ago.
Sites like TV.com, Hulu, and Joost that feature much of the same content are hoping that social-networking features will put them ahead of the crowd.
When the CBS Corporation bought CNet for $1.8 billion last year, it acquired TV.com, a Web site that had little to brag about except a valuable domain name. Now CBS is transforming it into a video destination.
A generation after the launch of MTV, major record labels are hoping to revive the music video business online by creating a single digital destination for their artists’ output.
In just a year, Hulu has morphed into what is arguably the most successful television network--online. The co-venture of NBC Universal and News Corp.'s Fox already is the sixth-most-viewed online video hub, providing insights into how consumers transfer their television viewing preferences and habits to the Web.
Is content still king? A panel of industry heavyweights agreed to disagree at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference on Wednesday. "It absolutely starts with good content," said Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, the joint video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.
Glowing press reviews of NBC Universal and News Corp's joint-venture Internet video Web site, Hulu.com, now promise even better news. With some $70 million in total revenues -- virtually all advertising revenues -- Hulu's numbers are getting close to, dare we say, YouTube.