Until now, Hulu and TV.com have existed side by side happily, with the latter even syndicating content provided by the former. But that relationship now seems to have soured. Could Hulu now be eying TV.com up as potential competition?
Hulu Vs. TV.com
Hulu, the joint venture between NBC and News Corporation, has had an incredible run of success since launch. It has grown substantially, and gone from having zero traffic to 75 million visits a month. Hulu viewers tend to be loyal and very happy with the service.
TV.com, one of the most sought-after domain names in the world, used to be an information source with added community features such as forums. You’d basically use it for finding out about the latest episode of your favorite TV show.
But after being part of the CBS acquisition of CNet last year, TV.com has evolved into something much more. As well as the old features having remained, the site has been turned into a portal for online video, with episodic content abounding.
Hulu Content Pulled
Up until now, premium Hulu content such as Heroes and Family Guy has been syndicated on TV.com. But TV.com viewers suddenly noticed Hulu videos being watched through the site had a ‘Video Unavailable’ notice on them. The content, it seemed, had been pulled.
Hulu has now confirmed the videos have been removed, but its statement fails to offer any insight as to why the sudden move has been made.
“Hulu has contractual rights with regards to our relationship with TV.com and we are exercising those rights. Out of respect for their confidentiality, we will not disclose our discussions.”
There would seem to be a few possible reasons for the sudden pulling of Hulu content but whatever the true reason, it seems to have taken CBS and TV.com by surprise. It could be an argument over licensing and revenue levels. CBS currently makes 10 percent of advertising revenue generated by Hulu content viewed on TV.com.
But it’s much more likely, at least in my view, that Hulu has decided it can no longer afford to provide content to what could end up being serious competition. TV.com already had around 16 million visits a month even when it was just a community based site with no content. Since the relaunch in January, traffic is estimated to have risen 263 percent.
TV.com may still be a long way behind Hulu in terms of visitor numbers, but it’s on an upward trend, and Hulu can’t afford to allow it to catch up. Hulu’s rise to the top has been fast but it now faces having to defend that lead from the chasing pack. Pulling its content from the competition would seem an obvious first move.
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