Hulu private beta launches
We have to admit, we were a bit dubious when the companies announced they would be launching an online video portal. Why not just distribute their videos through an existing service like YouTube or Veoh? And can't you already watch most of these programs at NBC.com or Fox.com?
The truth of the matter is, Hulu is both a web site and a distribution platform. You can watch ad-supported videos at Hulu.com. The videos load in a Flash player, so you probably won't need to install any new software on your computer. And you can embed clips and full-length videos on your own site. Since the advertising stays intact, Hulu makes money no matter where people are watching the videos. Some of the ads will be overlays, while longer videos will likely have a limited number of interstitials, or what we like to think of as your classic commercial that comes on between TV episode segments.
Hulu will also be distributing videos through other portals like MSN Video and AOL Video. In fact, you can already find a handful of full-length TV shows from Hulu at AOL's site.
While you might think the service's 2 company pedigree means you can only watch a handful of videos like Prison Break, 24, Heroes, and Bionic Woman, those two companies produce a lot of video that wind up on other channels. For example, you can find Battlestar Galactica, Monk, Psych, and other shows that air on NBC-owned channels. And there's also a library of programming from the vault, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lost in Space, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There's also a limited number of movies available. You can check out complete lists of content from TechCrunch or NewTeeVee (PDF Link).
New episodes will probably stay on the site for about 5 weeks. It's not clear how long episodes of classic TV shows will be online. But that's what distinguishes Hulu from a good PVR or DVD player. It's more like video on demand, in that you're at the mercy of the programmers. If you decide you want to start watching a series from episode 1, by the time you get to episode 6, the first season may have been pulled off the site, forcing you to buy your downloads from iTunes, Amazon, or the DVD store.
Update: Thanks to Silicon Alley Insider, we got us some embed code. And it looks like once you embed the video on your site, you can access all kinds of other videos through the menu system. Check it out after the jump.
Update 2: And Hulu content is live on MSN Video.