• Hulu Launches Private Beta

    Not breaking news now, but Hulu lifted the veil of secrecy a bit today, releasing some screen shots and setting up a private beta (I'm trying to yank some strings to get access), in advance of a planned public launch early next year.

    Hulu's been surrounded by a bunch of naysayers from the beginning, though much of the nay-ing has been based on little else than cheap shots about the name, delayed launch, etc. Things that in the grand scheme of things mean virtually nothing in my opinion and only serve to distract attention from the real question at hand: can Hulu become NBC and Fox's (for now) formula for success in the broadband video era?

    Now it's time for Hulu to silence the rabble. Until I get my own hands on it, I'm going to reserve in-depth commentary. But at least several things that look intriguing:

    • Shorter commercial breaks and overlays - Looks like the tension between user focus vs. advertiser focus is skewing toward users. A welcome change from traditional media thinking.
    • Widespread distribution - I've been a big fan of this from the start. Deals with AOL, Yahoo, MySpace, Comcast, etc. ensures that Hulu content is widely available where users already are.
    • More content deals - One of the knocks on Hulu was that neither CBS nor ABC joined up front. However, recent deals with Sony and MGM show Hulu continues to gain traction with other premium providers.
    • Features - Beyond the standard range of embed, full-screen, send-to-friend features, it looks like there's an interesting "custom clip" capability to let users crop out scenes from favorite shows to pass along. This user control could enable massive new short form video inventory and could be a precursor to more interesting and creative user-generated mashups. All of this is highly monetizable.

    More thoughts on Hulu to come.