Hulu Sort of Scores in the Superbowl

Hulu is a web site where you can watch TV shows, and some other content. It is free and ad-supported. It was one of the web success stories of 2008. Like many legal sources of content on the web, it violates the spirit of the “world wide web” by being unavailable to much of the world.

So Hulu, the web site where you can watch TV shows, ran a TV ad during the Superbowl. It was one of the more highly-rated Superbowl ads this year (sources for this include Fred Wilson), and so many people will want to see it.

Now, it would make sense for Hulu to make it easy for people to watch its ad. In fact, Hulu has a gallery of all the Superbowl ads. Perhaps it is to Hulu’s credit that its own ad doesn’t seem to be particularly prominent in the gallery. But that’s another way of saying that Hulu puts up barriers to its own ad.

So if you go to Hulu.com in order to watch the ad the web site paid to run on TV, you have to first watch… a regular ad. That’s if you are allowed to watch the Hulu ad. If you’re outside the Hulu zone, you won’t be able to watch the ad.

I know that there are contractual restrictions on making content available across borders. But it would make sense for Hulu to not impose such restrictions when the content is its own ad. You can see more at Erick’s TechCrunch post. The “more” includes the Hulu ad itself… but of course, people in the USA will see an ad before the ad, and most people outside the USA won’t see much of anything.

By the way, I think that the Hulu ad is pretty good. “They say TV will rot your brain. That’s absurd. TV only softens the brain, like a ripe banana” is one of Alec Baldwin’s better lines. The Superbowl itself wasn’t bad either.

The Hulu Chronicles

Online TV site Hulu will go live today. Most of what I’ve read about the launch is positive, although Mike at TechCrunch warned of excessive Hulu mania, and Om had to correct his implication that Hulu is Ready For The World (it’s ready for exactly one of the world’s many countries).

My favorite overview is Daniel Langendorf’s account of The Good, The Bad, The Achilles Heel. The good includes range of content. The bad includes the absence of content from ABC and from CBS (although Mashable Paul considers these networks likely to submit to Hulu partnerships of their own in short order).

The Achilles heel that Daniel describes is my own least favorite feature of Hulu. It’s that the content is patchy and unpredictable. For example, as soon as I signed up for the Hulu beta, I watched an episode of The Simpsons. I then used a handy feature of the Hulu player to make a clip from the show, in order to post the clip to a blog.

The clip is no longer available, because that episode is no longer available at Hulu. So I won’t be making and posting any more “hey, check this out” type clips.

Having said that, I think that Hulu will do well. The player is easy to use, and the ads don’t get in the way nearly as much as I feared they would. I watched and enjoyed all nine episodes of the Terminator show on Hulu (and will be posting my thoughts soon).

WordPress Gets Crunchy, So Does Toni

It’s award season, and, for some of the blogs I follow, that means first annual Crunchies. The Overall award went to Facebook. Facebook received another award, in that Mark Zuckerberg was Best startup founder.

One other organization received two awards. Automattic was Most likely to succeed, and Toni Schneider was Best Startup CEO.

The other award on which I’ll remark is the one to Hulu for Best video startup. As a product of big old media, many of us were surprised to find we liked it.

I didn’t vote, by the way. I’m taking the current voting season off. I’m mildly surprised to find myself blogging about these awards.

Hooked by Hulu

I remember reading about the online video service Hulu. I didn’t pay much attention to it until today, when several of the blogs to which I subscribe announced that they had invites to the private beta. I succumbed to what I think was the third such announcement: the one on ReadWriteWeb. It includes the word unimpressive, but it also includes Simpsons.

The first episode I watched was the most recent return of Sideshow Bob. Hulu allows you to embed a video, either in part or in the form of a clip you can define yourself. I clipped a minute or so toward the start of the show. The Simpsons have a Tivo, Marge has just been guilted into watching the ads rather than skipping over them, and then the main plotline of the episode gets under way.

Hulu includes ads, so my ad-related clip seems like an appropriate first selection. I’ve found the ads tolerable so far.

Due to WordPress.com policy, I can’t embed the clip in this post. By the way, the Hulu support/FAQ page explicitly addresses this aspect of WordPress.com, although it makes it sound as though the limitation applies to all WordPress blogs.

So I embedded it in a post at another blog. I’ve been meaning for a while to set up an annex to house embeds and other animals forbidden by the landlords of this blog. I just got round to it, in the form of Widget Way at Tumblr.

There are several limits on Hulu. One relates to what you can watch; for example, the current season of The Simpsons is there, but there’s nothing from previous seasons. Another limit relates to who can watch. The site is currently invite-only and US-only – but there are ways round that.

All in all, I’m glad to have bitten on the Hulu hook, although I wouldn’t say that I was hooked on Hulu.