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“____ is the new Hulu”

December 29, 2009

We all can agree that Hulu is an awesome website that makes entertainment easier.  Hulu.com posts popular TV shows (and movies) from major networks for viewers to stream.  While each network has its own site, Hulu aggregates the shows so they are all available in the same place.  A GE/News Corp/Disney brainchild, the website launched in March of 2008.  Now it has in excess of 8.6 million unique visitors per month (via Compete.com).

Bottom line, Hulu has changed the way we watch TV.  I don’t even own a TV, though I watch a fair amount.  Even when I go home, there’s no cable — my father cut it last year because no one was watching it.  Thus, my computer doubles as a TV.  I watch a lot of Hulu, it has a good selection of shows and has high quality streaming. Sometimes I opt for sites like TVShack.net for my HBO and Showtime fixes.

With the advent of Tivo and DVR, advertisers are seeing smaller returns on their investments.  Viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials!  The way Hulu works is by forcing the viewer to watch a short 30-second ad clip throughout an episode — which comes out to about 2 minutes of commercials.  However, viewers clearly don’t mind because they continue to watch.  Commercials can also be aimed at certain people based on the show, an added plus for advertisers.

Given Hulu’s popularity, other similar services are leaking out of the woodwork, most recently: FreeAllMusic.com, a website that will allow users to download a song after watching a short ad.  The Times did a nice piece (Thanks, Aaron) about the new service, but I’m not buying it (haha, get it?).

The Times article spent more time comparing it to Hulu, which suggests that this site is just a knock off.  And given that there are rumors that Hulu will turn into a subscription service, Hulu’s model may not even be working that well.  Downloading = ownership, I bet it will have to be a pretty long commercial to be worth the $0.99 I am paying on iTunes.

To be current, FreeAllMusic.com is going to update your Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses with your activity, if you choose to opt in.  However, that will be making its users into advertisers.  This might make sense for a few who want their peers to recognize them as progressive and ahead of the curve (or those who don’t understand TMI boundaries). Personally it would just make me feel cheap and let the world know exactly how much Taylor Swift I listen to.

Let’s also talk about the name of this website, I have a couple qualms: are we freeing music?  Like a command: “Let music be free”?  Or was Allourmusicisfreeifyouwatchanad.com taken?  Or is it ‘Free, with respect to all music’?  Hulu works because it’s its own word, memorable and distinctive — one of the first rules of branding.

Okay, now I am ranting.  The idea is there and could catch on.  I’m just not confident in the execution.  It seems that neither is the website; initially users can only download 20 songs a month….

What do you think?

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