NBC Ready To Take On YouTube

Dennis Faas's picture

NBC has formally launched its online video site Hulu.com, seen by many as a potential rival to YouTube.

The site, which is also backed by Fox's parent group News Corporation, contains more than 250 TV episodes from shows such as The Office and The Simpsons, plus movies such as The Big Lebowski. There are also movies and TV shows available in clip-form only.

Sports fans can choose from clips of recent NBA and NHL games, or full-length NCAA basketball games from the past 25 years.

Around 50 different TV stations, movie producers and websites are represented in the project. Some shows include advertising, though viewers have a choice of several ads to watch. In some cases they can choose to watch a two-minute movie preview at the start of a broadcast rather than have ad breaks.

The service, which has been testing since October, is also available through the home pages of Internet providers such as AOL and Yahoo. (Source: enews20.com)

Hulu management had hoped to get all major TV networks involved in the project, but ABC and CBS have so far turned down the offer. Hulu's chief executive Jason Kilar says he's still talking to them, stating "We won't stop until we have everything in terms of premium content. That is our mission."

Analysts warn the service may face problems when TV execs demand some episodes are removed when they become available on DVD. One warned, "If those episodes keep disappearing, they are going to have trouble getting people to go back and recommend TV shows on Hulu to their friends." (Source: nytimes.com)

The involvement of big-name players means the site has a chance to succeed. If nothing else, the backers should ensure the site is well-funded enough to avoid technical problems. However, movie and TV studios will still face problems finding a balance between keeping control of their product and competing with unofficial services that offer programs without advertising and in a format that can easily be transferred to DVD for watching on a big screen.

One thing's for certain: YouTube should get ready for more copyright infringement notices from NBC and its partners.

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