Hulu is losing all Comedy Central content, which includes the immensely popular The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. What’s more, Viacom is warning it may sue anyone uploading or embedding unauthorized clips on their sites. I smell trouble ahead.
Hulu Loses Big Names
Two of the most popular shows on Hulu are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Unfortunately, neither will be available to watch on Hulu after March 9 as Viacom has decided in its infinite wisdom to pull all Comedy Central content from the site.
This is a big deal when you consider The Daily Show is only behind Lost and Family Guy in terms of the number of viewers it gains on Hulu. So if even those kinds of viewing figures aren’t making it worth Viacom’s while what about the less popular shows?
Hulu’s Big Problem
This sums Hulu’s problem up in a nutshell. While it’s the most popular TV catchup service on the Web in the U.S., it is wholly reliant on the networks and content creators for its product. If that disappears then Hulu is left with nothing to sell. Or at least no content to sell advertising against.
The same is true for any content aggregator, of course, but Hulu is slap-bang in the middle of an emerging market which could still evolve in a number of ways. And it could turn out that Hulu is crowded out of the market by initiatives such as TV Everywhere.
Viacom Threatens To Sue
For viewers this news won’t mean too much. Both shows will still be viewable online (in the U.S. only, naturally) on their own Web sites. However, the art of embedding is going to be affected.
While Hulu has the whole show and allows users to crop whichever section they want to, Comedy Central only makes certain clips available. Which is bound to lead to unauthorized clips being uploaded on sites such as YouTube.
The Hollywood Reporter quotes PR rep Tony Fox in saying, “My feeling is if (websites) are making money on our copyrighted content, then that is a problem.” he also answered, “Yes, we intend to do so,” when asked if Viacom will now target sites and bloggers who post clips from the shows in question.
Ars Technica got spun a different story, but it’s clear the company will be closely monitoring online video sites after The Daily Show and The Colbert report are removed from Hulu.
Viacom and Hulu were reportedly discussing a deal right up until the last minute, but one which pleased both sides couldn’t be found. My guess would be Viacom was after a bigger slice of the revenue pie, and Hulu cannot really afford to give up any more at this time.
Maybe when Hulu starts charging Viacom will have a change of heart. In fact, I’d suggest it’s inevitable.
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