Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Link to Wired.com article

He [Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu] and his crew would emerge from their dismal cave with the sleekest, easiest-to-use, most professional video site on the Internet. Not only would it deliver shows and movies from Fox and NBC Universal, it would take you to programs from every other major network and studio. Full-length episodes. Entire seasons. For free. Within months of that late-August announcement, Hulu would be among the top 10 US video sites in number of clips streamed. Om Malik, one of the bloggers who had ridiculed it from the start, would pronounce it "brilliant." TechCrunch readers would vote it best video startup of 2007. "Game Over. Hulu Wins," Arrington would declare in a conciliatory post. How did that happen?

One paragraph, "As Dobron describes it, the initial business plan was all too predictable...", describes how Hulu was originally going to be "business as usual" - with the media company limiting the content in order to protect its existing business lines (syndication and DVD sales). However, this most likely would have failed, as previous ventures had in the past. Instead, they brought in an "outsider" to develop Hulu, underscoring the importance of occasionally questioning the assumptions and limits that people (and/or businesses) place on themselves.

The plan was to outsource both the site design and the underlying computer code. Kilar was aghast. "Technology is the source of our competitive advantage," he explains—the key to a service that would provide a high-quality videostream and support an ever-growing number of users and shows. "For us to design the company to last, we had to write every line of code ourselves." He sent the network people back to their old jobs and told the consultants they were out.

Chernin says. "You can't protect old business models artificially." This is a truth the tech community knows well, but it's not what you expect to hear from a media baron like Chernin. What he and Zucker have come to understand is that the media companies no longer have a choice: If they don't put their shows online, someone else will. "The best way to combat piracy is to make your content available," Zucker says. "We don't know for sure what the impact is going to be on our established businesses. But we want to make sure consumers know they don't need to steal our content. That's really what Hulu is about."

Finally, after decades of dictating what we can watch and when, the networks would be reduced to a Web widget, functioning at the user's whim. Just as it should be.

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