We scorned it. We teased it. We gave it funny names, like Clown Co. But Hulu is here. And it's doing damn well.
Sure, Hulu is still a work in progress.
- Occasional adjacency issues still appear (with family brands displaying in non-family friendly content),
- Their "pop-out"player is noticeably missing an "always on top" functionality that multitasking often demands, and
- Commercials may still suddenly interrupt content without the customary split second of black screen that generally prepares viewers for a commercial break...
- but these issues will be resolved over time.
But to my mind, the most interesting trend for Hulu is not where they are, but where they are heading and most importantly, how they may be changing the market.
Summer was once a dead season for television. Sure, in recent years networks started "testing" reality tv and even threw in a bit of fresh professionally written programming. But summer TV is summer TV.
And so, Hulu has rolled out their Days Of Summer offering. Every weekday, for the entire summer, Hulu will be rolling out fresh content. From the looks of it, much of this content will be a mix of classic and contemporary popular movies. Hulu is essentially taking the appeal of syndicated television (well established familiarity, pre-existing appeal, and first rate emotional connectivity) to online film viewing audience... in high definition. For the first time in the past decade, mainstream media is leading the charge into next gen programming. Sure people are already watching movies online via any of the many sites (warning: many are legally dubious) listed on OV Guide , but few of those sites are streaming in high-def.
Hulu is tapping into four ready and available audiences -
- the web ready home viewer who is bored with third rate off-season content on network television,
- the streaming video "pirate viewers" who frequent streaming media sites,
- the web connected worker doing some summertime slacking, and
- the college student who is home from school and doesn't have access to the massive amount of illegal content regularly shared on college networks.
The summer is the equivalent of a 2-4 month-long writers strike. There is little worth watching. If Hulu can capitalize on this opportunity, teaching Americans to watch long form professional content in a streaming environment, it could change an entire market dynamic.
- 8 years ago, American Idol taught America to SMS.
- This summer, Hulu may well introduce us to a whole new world of web video.
Check out the Hulu "Days of Summer" Widget below: