Tag: Hulu

Hulu and Britain’s ITV close to partnership

ITV

Hulu is the offspring of a joint venture between Disney, News Corporation, and NBC Universal. Since February of this year, Hulu has tried to replicate its success in the U.K. by partnering with BBC, Channel 4, and ITV, only to be blocked by the Competition Commission. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the popular video website from negotiating with their potential British partners. Now it looks like Hulu and ITV are “within weeks” of making a deal.

ITV Productions makes programmes for several channels but Hulu will have exclusive rights to those made for ITV including Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice. It is expected that ITV Player, the broadcaster’s 30 day catch-up service, will continue to show all of ITV’s programming.

ITV will still be able to sign deals with other web TV players, such as YouTube or MSN Video, Microsoft’s new online TV proposition, to broadcast its other content – but will be locked in with Hulu exclusively on these shows.

Channel 4 is understood to be closer to signing a content deal with YouTube, which would see its content play out in full for the first time on video site. It is a non-exclusive deal and YouTube is understood to be offering money in exchange for catch-up long form rights. It is also in similar talks with ITV and BBC Worldwide.

I love the language this writer from The Daily Telegraph uses, treating Hulu and YouTube like sports organizations and ITV, Channel 4, and the BBC like big names on the free agent market. ITV is close to locking a deal with Hulu. However, Channel 4 is still entertaining offers from YouTube. Given that I watch sports very closely, the language used in big business deals rings virtually the same as sports transactions.

Anyway, this deal will be beneficial for all parties involved. Hulu has offered ITV a chance to take equity in it’s company. From my understanding, Britain’s ITV is very similar to our PBS in that multiple franchises have a stake in the brand. Over the years, however, the network has struggled, and ITV plc is now the main company behind most of the programming. The network’s top shows include Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and The X Factor.

British TV companies reclaim their content on the Internet

BBC TV

A survey conducted by Deloitte and YouGov reveals that British TV fans are more likely to turn to a network’s site rather than YouTube or iTunes if they miss a show when it airs.

The survey said viewers’ awareness of broadcasters’ on-demand sites, such as the BBC’s U.K. iPlayer service, had overtaken that of both YouTube and iTunes at 84% compared with 76% and 64% respectively.

Deloitte’s media and telecoms partner James Bates said: “In an ironic twist to earlier expectations, broadcasters and independent producers may, in the medium-term, be those that benefit most from online television.

“Broadcasters may increasingly use online television to support their core, traditional objective of maximizing broadcast audience size and quality.”

Bates added that online video clips, distributed via TV companies’ own websites and third-party platforms, spark interest in broadcasters’ shows while catch-up services enable auds to keep up with programs they’ve missed.

This has long been evident in the United States, where networks started coming down on YouTube and other sites that were illegally hosting their programming. In a rather smart move, the major networks partnered to create Hulu, a site supported by commercials that allows viewers to watch their favorite shows on the Internet for free. It’s currently impossible to watch a full episode of an American show on YouTube and few fans want to pay the fee iTunes charges. When watching an episode for free on Hulu or the network’s webpage, the viewer only has to sit through about three minutes of commercials. I’m happy this is working out with Brtish TV fans. The networks just have to hope the writers don’t complain.

There is No Such Thing as a Free Movie

There is absolutely no doubt that the way we watch movies is changing, and changing fast. The film business has managed to avoid the wholesale slaughter of the music industry because of the higher bandwidth needed to convey a movie and the importance (to some of us, anyway) of picture and sound quality. Still, it’s only a matter of time before movies become easily available online, and distinctions between computers and TV sets as entertainment delivery systems is breaking down rapidly.

Hulu has become huge overnight by breaking down the barrier for TV shows and a limited but interesting selection of films despite sometimes erratic technical performance issues (at least on my iMac). Disney/ABC, Universal/NBC and, of course, the brain eating aliens are involved, though the enterprise was started by a force far more sinister and implacable: Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp.

Mashable’s Ben Parr today writes about Epix, which he describes as a joint venture of Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM. Parr was allowed an early look at the site and, as a film fanboy, it sounds pretty great. If I understand it correctly, you would get the service as part of your cable TV or satellite package and would then be able to choose from a Hulu-like library to view either on television or via computer. If you’re into this stuff, you really should read for yourself. For me, one interesting aspect is that it’s unclear how deep that library would be, both because of marketing issues and because of the various confusing deals that have been struck over the years for MGM’s huge back catalog. (If you’re a masochist or just dig this stuff, here’s a Wikipedia taste.)

It all sounds great to me, except, just as there may be with Hulu, much as I enjoy the service it provides, it strikes me that there could be some anti-trust issues here. Or not. I’m only a lawyer in my mother’s fantasies. Cord Bloomquist, however, has a good rundown of the situation vis a vis Hulu from a libertarian perspective, but I’m no libertarian when it comes to megabusiness. I’m really more of a latte-sipping Hollywood (well, Anaheim) librul who thinks that media consolidation is perhaps the single most serious issue underlying all the other issues we deal with, so I’m a bit suspicious of all the studios getting into bed together for these kind of things.

Short version: Bob the liberal is wary, but Bob the movie geek is intrigued. And, let’s face it, one way or another, this the direction we’re going in. I’d just like to see more flowers blooming.

“Lost” tops online streamed TV programs

“Lost” and “SNL” are also popular online.

Lost, Saturday Night Live and Grey’s Anatomy were December’s three most popular entertainment TV programs streamed from tagged network websites and embedded network video players, according to VideoCensus data from Nielsen Online (via MarketingCharts).

In its first public release of ratings for online individual TV programs, Nielsen reported that ABC.com’s Lost had 1.4 million unique viewers in December — the most among streamed online broadcast TV network entertainment programs. NBC.com’s Saturday Night Live was a close second, with 1.1 million unique viewers, followed by ABC.com’s Grey’s Anatomy with 879,000 unique viewers in December.

The network websites included were from broadcast networks that had tagged their online offerings: ABC.com, CBS Television, CWTV.com, FOX Broadcasting, and NBC.com. The rankings exclude Hulu, which currently does not report VideoCensus data at the program level.Rankings include unique viewers who viewed a full episode, part of an episode or a program clip during the month.

“As I see it, the broad diversity of top television network entertainment programs online suggests that there is more to online viewership than a simple extension of the TV audience,” said Jon Gibs, VP of media analytics, Nielsen Online. “While the online popularity of some shows, like Grey’s Anatomy suggests that some people are using the internet to catch up on programs they usually watch on TV, the online popularity of other programs like Saturday Night Live, indicates that there is a web audience that might otherwise not watch these programs at all. These viewers are driven by a morning-after water-cooler effect.”

Nielson’s reports are incomplete until they start including numbers from Hulu as well, and we also need information about how these numbers stack up against popular online video sites.

It would have been interesting to see numbers from Novemeber and October, as “SNL” surely led the way with its political coverage.

CBS will relaunch TV.com

paidContent.org is reporting that CBS is relaunching TV.com.

CBS Interactive is relaunching TV.com, hoping to transform the well-named site known for its TV-related community and user-generated content into a serious video destination, paidContent has learned. The full-scale relaunch with new content partners is slated for January but the cosmetic changes will start this week with a new look and logo, according to sources familiar with the plans. TV.com is among the assets CBS (NYSE: CBS) picked up with its $1.8 billion acquisition of CNET last summer. (The other notable non-brand domains: News.com, MP3. com and Radio.com). Despite having the ultimate url and folding in some video through agreements first with CBS and then with Hulu, CNET missed multiple opportunities to grab early advantage. Now it’s playing catchup with a number of competitors, including Hulu and newest challenger Sling.com.

While it’s being talked about by content partners and others as the CBS answer to Hulu.com, that’s not quite the way I think CBS sees it. Hulu.com, launched in beta in late 2007 and for real in March 2008, is a video destination with a solid video search engine and some community elements that have yet to really take off. Launched in 2005, TV.com has been a “digital water cooler” about anything and everything having to do with TV, drawing more than 16 million unique monthly visitors and boasting info about nearly 19,000 shows. As planned, the new version would blend the two by making TV.com into a real video destination, not a place where you happen to watch video, while continuing to build on its community strengths and its depth of content about TV. CBS doesn’t want TV.com to be Hulu—it wants to move beyond Hulu.

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