Hulu Gets GH.....
Hulu Scores Disney Content; CBS Stands Alone
by Chloe Albanesius
Watch out, CBS. Disney content is coming to Hulu.
The Walt Disney Company announced Thursday that it will become a joint venture partner and equity owner of video Web site Hulu.com, currently a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.
The move means that Hulu.com will add content from ABC's primetime lineup, as well as cable channels like ABC Family, SOAPNet, and The Disney Channel. Disney will also contribute selections from Walt Disney Studios and original, short-form content.
"From our landmark iTunes deal to our pioneering decision to stream ad supported shows on our ABC.com player, Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today's Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey," Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement. "Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders."
Hulu will now house content from all of the major networks except CBS, which has its own online video outlet with TV.com. Hulu pulled its content from TV.com in February after making it available in May 2008.
Two weeks ago, CBS as well as Crackle, MGM, Lionsgate, and Starz - made thousands of TV episodes and hundreds of movies available on YouTube, but the service left something to be desired.
This came several weeks after Disney and YouTube announced the launch of YouTube channels featuring short-form content from ESPN and Disney/ABC Television Group. ESPN content was scheduled to roll out in mid-April, with ABC following suit in May.
ABC currently streams all of its shows online 12 hours after they first air on broadcast TV. Select clips from Disney and ABC Family are also available on the Web. ESPN also has a subscription-based ESPN360.com service.
So what's coming to Hulu? Consumers can now watch full-length episodes of shows like Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and Private Practice. It will also feature ABC Family content like Greek, and daytime series like General Hospital and The View. ABC will also add episodes of "classic" shows, such as Hope and Faith, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Dancing with the Stars.
Hulu will also feature webisodes, sneak peeks and episode recaps from ABC Entertainment, ABC Family and SOAPnet.
"Hulu, quite simply, now has the best premium content on the web," said Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer at News Corp. v "We are excited to help audiences and great shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives find each other via Hulu," Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar wrote in a blog post. "We also are excited at the many ways this can enable us to better serve advertisers. But perhaps most importantly, we are smiling big today because we are honored to be working with a company that quite frankly inspired us from the very start of Hulu."
After the deal goes through, Disney will get three seats on the Hulu board: Iger; Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group; and Kevin Mayer, executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development and technology.
Current directors from News Corp., NBC Universal, and Providence Equity Partners will remain on the Hulu board.
Iger appeared earlier this month at The Cable Show in Washington, D.C., where he encouraged to the cable industry to embrace the Web.
"Technology can pose all types of threats to existing businesses, but look at it as a means to maximize opportunity," he said.
Hulu, which debuted in March 2008, has grown in popularity in recent months thanks to a high-profile ad campaign that started on Super Bowl Sunday.
The site broke into the top three properties by videos viewed for the first time in March, according to Tuesday data from comScore, trailing only Google properties like YouTube and interactive offerings from Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace.
Hulu viewers watched 380 million videos in March, according to comScore. That accounts for 2.6 percent of all Web video, and 4.9 percent of all minutes spent watching online video. Hulu attracted about 41.5 million viewers last month, who watched an average of 9 videos while on the site.