Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Hulu

Last week, I finished reading Evolution Man: Or, How I Ate My Father by Roy Lewis. I think this is the first non-picture book I have read in two years. It was a fun, fast read about a family of over achieving cavemen trying to get ahead of the evolutionary curve. I chuckled. I chortled. I needed another prehistoric fix.

I'm not sure exactly when Hulu came out of beta, but I noticed a few mentions last week in SXSW coverage. Sure enough, they had Quest for Fire. It was a fine film. Beautiful scenery and a soundtrack that spoke for the characters better than any subtitles could have. I will probably watch it again, and I may watch it on Hulu.

Overall, I was quite happy with using Hulu. The site is lean and fast: nothing gets in the way of finding videos. Searching was straight forward. Creating an account (needed to prove my age to watch a rated R movie) was a breeze. I would say I wish they supported OpenID, but I have yet to pick an OpenID for myself. The Flash player works great on my iMac, even in full screen. I was able to watch half Friday and half Saturday. Oh, and it was free.

Free, but every fifteen minutes I was presented with a 30 second ad spot. This first ad -- right in the middle of a scene of wolves chasing cavefolk across the tundra -- was for Cesar Canine Cuisine. The rest of the ads were for DirecTV. The video quality wasn't great, but I suspect that had more to do with the conversion from film to digital than with Hulu. 30 second adverts every 15 minutes and non-stellar video quality? Acceptable compromises for an on-demand, free movie. The fact is, I never would have paid to rent the movie, and even if I had added it to the Tivo wishlist, would it have ever showed up? Instead, I found it through Hulu, and in exchange I watch a total of three minutes of ads.

Whoever can bring online video the the couches of the masses will have a huge market. If Hulu were to partner with Tivo, AppleTV or a Cable/Satellite DVR, there could be the winning combination. The question is, do these prospective partners see Hulu as an opportunity or a threat?

I'm sure I'll be spending more time on Hulu. It's too bad they don't have Clan of the Cave Bear.
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