Hulu’s plans to break out of its self-imposed borders and launch internationally have been dealt a severe, and possibly fatal blow. It seems British broadcasters just aren’t interested in being part of Hulu’s quest for world domination
Hulu has been a phenomenal success in the U.S., bringing together the television content from various networks and delivering it on the Web in style. It finished 2009 with a flourish, hitting one billion video views in a month, and 2010 is also looking good.
This year could be an important one for Hulu, as it seeks to introduce a subscription model alongside its free, advertising-supported one. It needs to hope that enough people pay the asking price in order to receive the benefits, which could include a dedicated Hulu app for the Apple iPad.
Charging for access isn’t Hulu’s only plans for expansion, with an international version of the service also on the cards, starting with the U.K. This process began over a year ago, and the company has been in negotiations with British broadcasters ever since.
At one point, a September 2009 launch date was rumored, but that date came and went with no sign of Hulu U.K. becoming a reality.
The last we heard was in February 2010 when Hulu was thought to have reassessed its launch plans, with June being eyed. However, none of the main British broadcasters seemed keen on doing deals.
Dead Or Delayed?
That has now led to speculation that plans for a U.K. version of Hulu have been canned altogether, with The Telegraph claiming Hulu has abandoned the attempt to launch in the country. An extended delay seems guaranteed, but dead in the water?
Talks with the broadcasters appear to have collapsed in recent weeks, and a source claims Hulu is walking away after failing to get “any traction in the British TV market,” complaining that the “market does not match their business expectations.”
The BBC and ITV seem happy to focus on their own on-demand video players, while Channel 4 and Five were unwilling to compromise on who controlled the selling of advertising inventory around their content.
Hulu has been rather unlucky; both with the timing of its approaches to broadcasters, and the fact that British broadcasters seem to be even more resolute than their U.S. counterparts about how their content is going to be viewed on the Internet.
I would have liked to have seen Hulu launch in the U.K., but with the iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD, Demand Five, Sky Player, SeeSaw, MSN Video Player, and YouTube already offering television on the Web I think I’ll cope.
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