Hulu, Web Video and That Scary Kid from High School

As I’m writing this item, a second browser window on my computer is open and playing a video of Michael Scott and company meeting in a Dunder Mifflin conference room.

we armak fur infinitee paperfessional

to help us make itlater so it’s ajhhhh not too shabby

Ah, those cut-ups at The Office! Listen’ to ’em go at it!

so, Anybod it take car anima tried to do a logo

luug a da

eeaativity!


I suppose I need to explain that the dialogue I’m quoting is from a video of The Office embedded on the blog of Hulu, a new video service just launched by NBC/Universal and News Corp. The service is still in beta and very few free-living humans, aside from some media people and one analyst at Forrester and Co., have laid eyes on it.

Some venture capitalists and assorted bigbrains have proclaimed Hulu a “YouTube Killer.” By this they mean one of two things: (a) Hulu may demonstrate that big media companies can control distribution of their own content in a digital world; or (b) Hulu may prove someone has a freaking clue how to make money by streaming video on the web.

But for insight on business matters I always defer to the Sage from Scranton:

I wan youngwik cutTV on crack!

ind of ing. . .

What Michael in his infinite wisdom is saying is, a computer is a pretty crappy way to watch video.

It’s true that my broadband connection at this moment isn’t great–it’s one of those free hotel-room networks–which likely explains the Tourette’s-like vibe in the Dunder Mifflin conference room. But even when the sound is working right, a small screen isn’t something you cozy up your Barcalounger to.

I’m afraid the folks at Hulu don’t stay home and watch TV enough. If they did, they’d realize that nobody is going to sit through an hour-long drama on the notebook computer, even one of those swank 19-inch multimedia jobbies with cool speakers. Where does the viewer sit? In a desk chair for an hour with fingers poised at the keyboard? Maybe if you have wireless you watch it in bed until your neck cricks.

Or how about this: Just bring that flashy new Dell in front of the couch in the family room, and set it on top of the TV. Look, hon: A 19-inch color TV with no remote! Ain’t America great?

I know vast fortunes will rise and fall as investors try to figure out how to capture some of that YouTube fairy dust. But some pretty bright people seem to be confusing the technical ability to transmit video to computers with the desire to watch broadcast TV shows that way.

Note to Hulu: People aren’t deserting TV because they don’t like the device. They’re deserting because they like what’s “on” the computer better. By sticking your broadcast TV content on the web, you’re acting like that creepy-sad kid in high school who, after the girl breaks up with him, follows her around all day long hoping she’ll reconsider.

Dude: She’s just not that into you.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these broadcasters really are onto something. They are, after all, big, successful corporations with decades of experience mastering the nuances of the American appetite for entertainment. Maybe their lurching attempts to press their decreasingly popular products onto the very people who have deserted them is not a fatal miscalculation.

I am certainly no expert on these things. For advice on these matters I turn, as I often do, to the Sage of Scranton:

a creative profess

how abou dampain?

ood luck Michael

Explore posts in the same categories: Hulu, The Office, video

One Comment on “Hulu, Web Video and That Scary Kid from High School”

  1. Lawrence Says:

    You are so right —

    The web/internet, even in this early state, is like TV 2.0, or TV Squared —

    It is SO much more enjoyable to get lost in Second Life or other worlds and games, or play your favorite songs for each and talk and cam in multi-media chatrooms, or even simple text fantasy roleplay…

    than to passively sit in front of a television, which only thing it allows is to just wash over you…

    “Now they’re making up their own shows / Even better than TV…” Talking Heads — ‘Found a Job’


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