Hulu, an online video service from two large media companies, News Corp. and General Electric’s NBC Universal, started testing its service Monday. Using an advertising based business model, Hulu will have programming from a number of media companies including now shows from Sony Pictures Television and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
The move by these companies to move their programming online indicates the growing popularity of online video, as is evident from the success of Google Inc.’s YouTube. Besides adding a revenue stream for these companies, the programming online may also prove to be a promotional medium, providing users a sample of movies and other video that they could then buy on DVDs or view at the local theatre.
Along with Hulu’s own site, the company said its videos would be available through partners such as America Online Inc., MSN and MySpace.com, although links for Hulu on these sites were not apparent at the time of writing, according to a report by Computerworld.
The companies involved are likely to ensure tight control over their copyrights on content, including discouraging download and distribution of their content. Leading Internet and media companies announced earlier this month a set of guidelines for user-generated content (UGC) services, without infringing copyrights.
Among the measures proposed is the implementation of filtering technology with the goal to eliminate infringing content on UGC services, including blocking infringing uploads before they are made available to the public.
Given that the Internet bandwidth required for the services proposed by Hulu is not available even in some parts of the US, Hulu will likely be more popular for viewing short clips from movies, and other short content, rather than as an alternative to television, and other medium for watching TVs.