Hulu

Hulu. You have heard of Hulu? No, not the dance – that’s Hula – as in – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hula_Dance – but if after reading the Wikipedia description you are interested in taking it up – here is a link to a place you can begin to learn this interesting custom –
http://www.howtodothings.com/hobbies/a3667-how-to-hula-dance.html.

And, not the hoop either – also Hula – see for yourself – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hula_hoop – although it still amazes me that kids…of all ages…all over the world still play with it! Just in case you are not sure – even after reading Wikipedia (imagine) – here is the place to learn – http://www.hooping.org/archives/000061.html.

I got it right – HULU. And the Hulu I am referring to – and opening a new year with is – http://www.hulu.com/.

According to Wikipedia – I’m on a roll – Hulu is a website that offers commercial-free streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX and many other networks and studios. Hulu videos are currently offered only to users in the United States.

Hulu provides video in Flash Video format in a higher resolution and bit rate than YouTube, including many films and shows that are available in 480p. In addition, some TV shows and movies are now offered in high definition. Hulu also provides web syndication services for other websites including AOL, MSN, MySpace, Yahoo! and Comcast’s Fancast.com.

Now here is the thing – Wikipedia is not accurate – the site is advertised as “watch for free” but it’s not commercial free – commercials are embedded in every clip – and guess what? You can’t fast-forward or delete them. And, of course, the longer the clip the more commercials there are.

Needless to say this has pissed off some of the Internet purists who like to ignore intellectual property law and custom, and firmly and fervently believe that everything in the world should be free (except for their own material on occasion) and would rather, I guess, watch the three thousandth consumer-generated video of the dog peeing on a stranger’s shoes than the latest professionally written, produced, directed and acted movie or show. Except we know that isn’t true because they probably bootleg everything good they can.

The point was well made in the New York Times Sunday Magazine by Virginia Heffernan: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/04/magazine/04wwln-medium-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

Bottom line – if you don’t want to pay…watch the commercials – or go back to the peeing dog…

What caught my attention – and my loyal readers know this soapbox – is that if you dispassionately dissect the issue and look seriously at the model, it is TV – plain and simple. Further, if you take it a step up and suggest that you pay for the privilege to watch – it’s Cable TV. And yet the site has been written about and lauded as if it’s some great new concept – as opposed to a great and logical use of the channel and a full-blooded extension of the model that allows for the creation of stuff worth watching for “free,” if you will.

I decided to start the year with this because I think the message is key for a year that is going to be as challenging as this one will be.
What strikes me about Hulu is that the founders went back to the basics – the real basics – as in who is going to pay for this content. They also gambled that the content they provide will always trump the endless postings of that ubiquitous dog…safe bet I’d say (your view?).

And then they applied what they knew and what they believed to new channels of distribution – and there you have it. They did not reinvent the wheel, create the new broadcast model or change the paradigm – they made it easy for us to view our favorite programs when we want to and they made it economically viable for themselves to provide the service.

So it should be for us – in our business, and, I think, in these highly pressured and uncertain times, in our private dealings as well.
We need to return to basics. Real basics. We need to look for value and make sure that we add or provide it. We need to make sure that we don’t “innovate” for innovation’s sake and that we don’t fool ourselves into believing that we have the uniquely new and different paradigm-breaking black box – for business or its relationship equivalent.

Having said that, there is still much to learn and much we can do to be fresh – think on this:
There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.
— Ambrose Bierce

This thought inspired me. Don’t throw away what we know…in today’s world we just can’t afford it.

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