Hulu And The Value Of Content

The blogotwitisfacebooksphere has been all abuzz with the very idea that Hulu might be charging for content at some point in the near future. This piece at NewTeeVee does a good point of catching you up with the story so far.

I brought the idea up on Twitter and got back a few responses. This one was my favorite:

@colligan – You think HULU makes it with this model? They are getting greedy too quickly IMO.

Is it really greedy to make money from content that you own?

Is the problem greed – or just a bad business plan?

Of course, we could ask this question about Wall Street and Detroit – but that’s another post all together.

Hulu reminds me of some of the first dotcom bubble companies – they’re all about enjoying the ride but being honest enough to know that the ride ain’t gonna be around for long.

There was a company in Portland that would actually deliver to my office a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at cost. They would even pick up my dry cleaning at my house (and deliver it back) for less than I was paying at the time to take it to the dry cleaners (and, of course, they did so in these massive trucks “wrapped” with their branding). You bet I used the company and you bet I enjoyed the ride but, … let’s be honest, … I always knew it wouldn’t last.

Time to face some simple facts with Hulu:

1 – Yes, a single (30 second) commercial per break is wonderful but admit it, 75% of them are PSAs. If you can’t sell a single ad per slot – you can’t sell multiple ads per slot – even if people would “put up” with watching them. The ad model isn’t working for Hulu – and anybody who cares about the future of Hulu needs to ask if it ever will.

2 – The fact that Hulu starts each show with a reminder to watch it live with the full commercial experience reeks of a company who has sold some content owners a fascinating bill of goods. The reality that the EULA for their desktop player prevents you from hooking it up to a television set says more about what they think of their audience than this blog ever could. Hulu doesn’t like you skipping the traditional “channels” to consume content on your terms.

3 – The silly fight with Boxee – ’nuff said.

4 – The “experience” is wonderful and the programming is impressive but, admit it, they’re losing money on each and every stream. I’ll direct you back to my “You Can’t Handle The Truth” posting of over a year ago for more on that one.

I’ve said it multiple times – Hulu can’t scale and the coming Hulu is nothing like the one we have today. Personally, I’d prefer the paid model because my time is worth more than these silly commercials take.

And I honestly believe yours is as well.

Here’s the deal: Good content has value.

If we took half the energy spent on trying to figure out how to deliver it for free and put it towards coming up with a payment and delivery model that actually made sense, we’d all be better off for it.

How anyone can spend the money they do on connectivity but feel that the media said connectivity brings should be free is akin to thinking cds should be free because your paying for electricity – or that food should be free because you bought a fridge to hold it in.

When the futurists stop complaining about what the future is obviously bringing, we might get to enjoy the future a bit sooner.

‘just sayin …

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