Word has leaked out today that Hulu's negotiations with UK broadcasters have broken down, and the service will not be offered in that market. Sources at the broadcasters claim that the "market does not match [Hulu's] business expectations”. Which we take to mean the British broadcasters wanted too big a slice of the action.
Hulu in the US has become a marginal success, and even has been turning a profit as of late. The video streaming company is owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Disney. Hulu is rumored to be planning to launch a subscription model next month, but apparently even that model was not enough to sway UK broadcasters.
One British station, ITV, is clearly forging ahead with their own ITV Player instead of putting their content on aggregators. Hulu hasn't had anything to say on the matter as of yet, but we'd be interested to hear their side of things. In the meantime, at least our friends in the UK can enjoy Spotify, which has yet to land in the States.
A new study from ScanScout could be mighty troubling to advertising types. Apparently about 24% of all online video is being watched during the traditional television primetime hours of 8PM-11PM. You know, the time the networks assume we're watching so they can charge more for ads. It's really starting to look like online video is replacing a certain amount of live TV viewing.
The programmers have always seen their online offerings as a secondary option for people, not as a replacement for their broadcasts. This is evidenced by the approach networks are taking to Hulu and Netflix. But these numbers indicate viewers are perfectly happy to stream what they want if the network isn't giving it to them.
The study also clearly indicated that primetime isn't the only time people sit down to stream video. The other time when users streamed higher than average amounts of content was weekend days. It was 31% higher than during weekdays. It's clear that when people have time to watch a program, they are increasingly turning to online sources. Do you find online video is eating up time you might have spent watching TV in the past?
The free ride might soon be over, or at least slowing down. According to a report in the New York Times, Hulu, the popular online streaming site, will begin testing a subscription service called Hulu Plus perhaps as early as May 24.
Users who aren't interested in forking over a monthly stipend would still be able to view the five most recent episodes of most TV shows for free, such as Saturday Night Live and Glee. Where the subscription comes into play is for viewers who want to watch a bigger selection.
Hulu, the second largest video portal on the planet, has turned a profit in the last two quarters and has pulled in more than $100 million in revenue from advertising. But according to the NYT, Hulu is under increasing pressure from its owners to rake in more cash and get viewers accustomed to paying a monthly subscription for professional content.
Do you think the $9.95 fee is reasonable? Would you subscribe to a service like this?
Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom is apparently moving ahead with plans to remove popular shows like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report from Hulu. Neither side is crying foul, but this represents a major loss to Hulu. The Daily Show is listed as the third most watched show on the service.
Hulu and Viacom originally reached an agreement in 2008 that landed the programs on the streaming service. According to Hulu’s Andy Forssell in a blog post, “In the past 21 months, we’ve had very strong results for both Hulu and Comedy Central, in terms of the views and revenue we’ve generated.” It seems that Viacom simply wanted better terms to extend the streaming license, and Hulu wasn’t having it.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t stream The Daily Show or Colbert Report, but you’ll have to go to their respective websites. This is the sort of fracturing of the online video model that consumers don’t need. Many people expecting to see this content on Hulu might not know seek it out elsewhere. Those are eyeballs Viacom won’t get back. Hulu said users that have subscribed to the affected shows will be notified of their removal today. Maybe if that pay wall ever goes up, Hulu could spread around more cash to prevent defections.
Congress held a hearing today to review the proposed purchase of NBC by Comcast. In that hearing Rep. Rick Boucher asked NBC CEO Jeff Zucker about the blocking of Boxee from Hulu content. Mr. Zucker’s answer was uncompromising, if a bit ham-handed. “What Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal,” said Zucker. He added, “What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.” He also said NBC was willing to negotiate with Boxee.
Boxee has responded to the assertion that they were engaged in illegal activity. Boxee’s Avner Ronen pointed out that they were in no way “taking” the video. Boxee simply accesses the content on Hulu via a web browser. The video is not copied, and it playes in its original form straight from the Hulu website. The process is no different than using Firefox or IE to load Hulu; there’s certainly nothing illegal about that. Ronen said he believes that Boxee users can add value to Hulu’s content, hinting that many users may be willing to pay for access to Hulu.
Ronen wrote that he intends to take NBC up on the offer to negotiate, and will contact them. However, if NBC continues to throw around words like “illegal”, the negotiations could be rocky indeed. Is this a case of a CEO being disingenuous to Congress, or just confused about technology? You can view the C-Span footage of the exchange here if you like.
Micro-management just isn't Microsoft's thing. Why do we say that? It's because the folks from Redmond are regular Babe Ruths when it comes to coding an OS and knocked the ball out of the park with Windows 7. But when it comes to integrated apps -- all those things we would expect Microsoft to excel at -- the software giant is more like Casey at the bat and we're all just a bunch of Mudville suckers wondering how Microsoft manages to whiff it at the easy pitches. Internet Explorer? Most of us are rocking Firefox or Chrome. And while we don't want to be too hard on Windows Media Player, there are certainly better media frontends out there.
One of them is XBMC, an open-source project formerly known as Xbox Media Center. XBMC was originally developed for the first Xbox console, and through the years, it has evolved as a fully fledged, cross-platform media hub with a rabid following and plenty of user-created plugins and scripts. It's also given birth to more familiar projects like Boxee, Voddler, and others, all of which initially borrowed from XBMC's source code.
If you've never played with XBMC, it's time for a test drive. To help you kick the tires, we've assembled 12 terrific tips and tricks so you can spend more time cruising the media byways and less time fumbling with the controls.
This year has been a very good one for video streaming site Hulu. What started out as a niche product for the more tech-savvy, has broken through into the mainstream community. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a blog post that Hulu has over 43 million unique visitors. That’s a 95% increase over one year ago. As the number of visitors goes up, the number of streams goes up even faster, having nearly tripled since April. The ad campaign that kicked off during the Superbowl likely started the ball rolling.
The overall amount of content on Hulu has also increased dramatically, going from 5600 hours of premium content, to over 14,000 hours. All those programs are being bought up by even more advertisers as well. Hulu has gone from 166 advertisers up to 408.
Also of note is the launch of the Hulu desktop application this year. After a long battle with Boxee, Hulu at least gave users an alternative way to view content. With all the good news, it’s easy to forget the rumors swirling around about internal battles between content owners and those running Hulu. And let’s not forget the possible pay model we’ve been hearing about. Hopefully, Hulu can get all this worked out while still preserving the good will they currently enjoy.
With the rise of popular streaming services such as Hulu, many would probably speculate that BitTorrent usage would be on the decline, but according to the folks over at TorrentFreak, nothing could be further from the truth. Nearly doubling its 28 million a year user base to 52 million, uTorrent usage is continuing to rise with no end in sight. “In addition to this, at the start of this year we saw almost 5 million monthly users of BitTorrent Mainline,” said Simon Morris, BitTorrents VP of Product Management. “In November 2009 we saw over 10 million”. “We see no evidence whatever that BitTorrent clients are any less popular”.
It seems pretty obvious that the legal woes of The Pirate Bay, Mininova, and others have done little to stem the tide of torrent adoption, and unless things change drastically, its hard to figure out what will. The uTorrent development team has several major improvements planned over the next 12 months, and hope to add options to increase file security, and even the ability for torrent site owners to promote their own content from within the client.
I’m sure all 52 million users are downloading the latest Linux build right? I had no idea it was becoming that popular! If you would like to join me in leaping to conclusions, feel free to leave your comments after the jump.
Google’s exploring a possible new stream of revenue: fee-based streaming television on YouTube. Peter Kafka, of All Things Digital, reports Google is presently in preliminary discussions with networks and studios, with both sides appearing optimistic.
The deal would include YouTube making available first-run television shows commercial-free for $1.99 apiece, like Apple and Amazon. Rather than allow the shows to be downloaded they’d be streamed. Kafka sees this as a problem--users wanting something a tad more tangible than a stream for their $1.99. YouTube, on the other hand, points to studies that show the download/streaming debate to be largely perceptual: buyers only watch a show once, so having or not having shouldn’t make a difference.
Details are still speculative, and might include YouTube shying away from first-run shows, providing instead shows not readily available through other services. There is also the possibility of a monthly subscription service, which Apple and Hulu are presently exploring.
The entrance of another video provider in a rapidly saturating online media marketplace may be a tough go. Users are notorious for not wanting to pay for content. With plenty of options open to them YouTube’s success with such a venture is open to question.
Living up to a promise made several weeks ago, the Roku Channel Store is now open. Unfortunately, rumors that the open platform for delivering content to Roku boxes would include support for Hulu turned to out to be false, at least so far. According to an article in Playboy magazine, "Hulu support is coming," but the video site wasn't among the first ten channels released, which includes Pandora, Facebook Photos, Revision3, Mediafly, TWiT, blip.tv, Flickr, FrameChannel, Motionbox, and MobileTribe.
"The Roku Channel Store turns the Roku player into the world's first open platform designed specifically for the TV," Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku, said in a statement. "Now content producers and distributors -- from single person shops to billion dollar corporations -- can deliver their content directly to consumers without having to go exclusively through cable operators, satellite networks, or TV affiliates."
Roku said a free SDK is available upon request, which would allow developers to add to the Store's selection. As for the Channel Store itself, it's also free and is being distributed through automatic upgrades within the next couple of weeks. No Roku owners will be left out in the cold, as the Channel Store works on all Roku devices, the company said.