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Hulu has fast become one of the internet's top destinations for professional video content. With free high-def programming from the likes of NBC, FOX, Comedy Central and many others, it's not hard to see why.
There's only one problem: it's only available in the United States.
There are a lot of good reasons to believe that the internet is the future of the content business. From the woes of the traditional media to the evident power of internet distribution, I think it's hard to argue that the internet isn't going to play a prominent role in the future of content. It already is.
But that doesn't mean that online content is easy.
Hulu's meteoric rise as the online video site of choice for big media companies looking for online distribution has attracted another equity partner: Disney.
The Walt Disney Company has announced a deal that sees Disney taking a 27% stake in Hulu and receiving 3 seats on Hulu's board. Hulu is now owned by Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal and a private equity firm.
Hulu broke into the top-three most watched video sites in March, with 380 million videos viewed, thus capturing 2.6 percent of the U.S. market.
comScore Video Metrix finds users in the USA viewed 14.5 billion videos online in March, an 11 percent increase over February.
Google sites remain the top video destinations in the country, with 5.9 billion videos viewed (40.9 percent market share). In March, YouTube accounted for over 99 percent of all Google video viewed.
Just as the industry is getting used to the terms and conditions of "online video" it's time to split it up. Online video is headed for three distinct executions: online spots, email video, and online programming.
The evidence for this comes from several sources, most notably Goodmail's CertifiedVideo, which bowed this week. CertifiedVideo jumped the gate with AOL and Yahoo aboard and many entertainment brands carrying promotions as part of their email campaigns. It also became apparent at the ARF conference this week, that online video needs to be more closely defined.
Web video is hot. From the user-generated video content on YouTube to the professional video content on Hulu, everybody loves watching video online.
But achieving real success financially with online video has proven to be much more difficult than achieving popularity.
The television marketplace known as "The Upfront" will start heating up by the end of March, and although internet inventory isn't on the table, expect it to be in the back room.
Far from the celeb and buffet-filled galas they used to be, the upfront is expected to be a pressure-packed process this year. Internet media companies have to be concerned that as they are trying to hold the line on CPMs, a media conglomerate trying to sell its slate of 30 second spots just might throw that pricing under the bus. The internet divisions are trying to establish new rates for online video and hold the line on display, but their TV divisions are facing a year in which rate increases will be impossible. Rate cuts for TV are on the table.
From YouTube to Hulu and everything in between, there's no questioning that online video is big. So big that one might assume it's threatening the role of television.
Not so according to two new reports indicating that online video has a long way to go before it eclipses the television.
The beer run ran its course, but it was an interesting - not to mention expensive - experiment. Anheuser-Busch has finally pulled the plug on Bud.TV, the online beer video destination featuring original humor content.
The announcement follows on the heels of news that Adidas plans a very similiar venture.
Launched to great fanfare and media attention just after the 2007 Super Bowl, at a cost of some $15M, Bud.TV featured an unbranded mix of humor and reality original content targeting just who you'd think: a young male demographic. Anheuser-Busch had hoped for upwards of 2M unique visitors per month, but a cumbersome registration process, intended to weed out underage traffic, proved a formidable stumbling block. All too often, legal age visitors were blocked by the process.
According to research conducted by American television network ABC and Nielsen Media Research, web video viewers aren't all that put off by the addition of multiple ads to each 'commercial break'.
With that, ABC looks poised to do something it has talked about the need for: boosting the amount of advertising shown with its online videos to bring online revenue in line with television revenue.
Mozilla, the non-profit foundation behind the popular Firefox browser, is putting its weight behind the development of an open, royalty-free video codec for the internet.
While popular video formats such as MPEG4 are quite robust, most are proprietary, covered by patents and require some sort of licensing on the part of software vendors.
TopGear.com, the sister site to the popular BBC motoring programme, has been trumpeting its relaunch with a series of viral videos seeded on sites like YouTube and Facebook.
The look of the site has been improved, while car reviews, and more blog and video content has been added. The redesigned TopGear.com also displays new and used cars from AutoTrader. This brings it into competition with sites like Autocar and Parkers, so I've been seeing how it compares.