It’s Hulu vs. Brightcove, not YouTube

by Mathew on October 29, 2007 · 5 comments

So Hulu, the joint venture between NBC and News Corp. that some thought would be a YouTube competitor, has sort of launched — or at least it has given some of the chosen few in Silicon Valley a look at the service. As far as I can tell from most descriptions of it, it sounds like a video-distribution network that will compete more with Brightcove and other similar video services than it will with YouTube.

In other words, it has nothing to do with “user-generated content” or people uploading video — it’s all about network content from NBC and News Corp., distributed through a Flash player that can be embedded on other sites and will be white-labeled to partners such as AOL and MySpace. Still, the early impressions seem positive; even Kara Swisher seems to like it, and so does MG Siegler at ParisLemon.

To the extent that NBC and News Corp. are getting the idea that distributing your content by any means available is a good thing, I think Hulu is a positive step. But as Mark Hendrickson points out at TechCrunch, this is still very much a TV-centric model — that is, shows and content appear and disappear based on the TV schedule. It may be flashy and well-designed, but I wonder whether it will be compelling enough to really draw people in.

Further reading:

Henry Blodget at Silicon Alley Insider has a nice rundown of the things that make Hulu less thrilling than it appears, and one of those things is the restrictions on the content that Hulu distributes. And Liz Gannes has more on that angle as well — as she puts it:

“Hulu can’t avoid the trappings of big media. The company is tied up in a contradictory situation, where it’s chartered to have web-wide distribution while trying to maintain tight control over the user experience wherever it goes.”

PaidContent has a nice overview of the launch as well, including the $100-million investment by Providence Partners.

  • Pleghm Crimson

    “It’s Hulu vs. Brightcove, not YouTube”. Not quite, or at all, I suspect. Sure Brightcove is a competitor. But as more video comes online people will be less interested in UGC. It’s had a monopoly in the market so far. As video becomes more commonplace, people will spend less of their video time on UGC, and therefore, on the YT’s of the world.

    Tick tock.

  • Rick

    Having read most of the reviews, I can’t escape the impression that Hulu is by far the most accomplished and impressive implementation…. of a dead end business model.

    The fact that site-builders apparently knew what they were doing is itself is pretty unique for sites commissioned by major corporations, but that doesn’t make the basic concept behind Hulu anymore viable.

  • john

    Actually, I feel exactly the opposite. As more and more people become online-video savvy, the UGC will only get better/higher quality. Do people really care THAT much about watching TV shows on their computer? It’s the content creators that need to be taken care of, and Vimeo is where it’s at for that.

    http://www.vimeo.com/HD

  • blah

    I love it. You’re reviewing a site you haven’t even seen yet. awesome. It’s a good thing they don’t require any journalism skills for crappy blogs, huh.

  • Mathew

    I hope that’s the case, John.

    And blah (nice name) — I’m discussing the idea, not reviewing the website. I guess that’s a subtlety you probably missed in your haste to post a nasty comment. Or maybe you work at Hulu?

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