Hulu has been an absolute revelation in the online video sector since launching at the beginning of last year. The only problem with it is the fact it’s only currently available to U.S. residents. But that could soon be changing with a Hulu UK on the way to the start the international roll-out.
Change Is Coming
It’s truly bizarre to me that though the Internet has made the world a much smaller place and enabled a true worldwide community to develop, media companies still think of us all as being divided into separate territories. With the emergence of online video and Internet distribution this situation can surely not continue. If it does then it will just mean piracy will grow ever more popular as demand for content outpaces change.
Yesterday came news that the BBC iPlayer may soon be headed for a subscription model, which could naturally mean the current UK-only rules are relaxed. And now comes news from the other side of the self-imposed divide that Hulu is looking to launch in the UK, possibly as soon as September.
Hulu UK On Way
According to The Telegraph, Hulu is currently in negotiations with several British broadcasters, including ITV and Channel 4, in an effort to launch its first foray into online video outside of the States. The aim is to sign deals in the next few weeks and be able to launch in September of this year.
There would be 3,000 hours of American television content made available, as well as content from the British channels willing to sign up to be a part of the service. Shows would be available to watch the day after they originally air and remain available for 30 days afterwards.
The one issue that seems to holding up any deal being formally agreed between Hulu and ITV and Channel 4 is one of who controls advertising sales for the British broadcasters. Hulu wants to adopt the standard American model that it controls all advertising and cuts the content-provider in while the commercial channels want control over their own advertising sales.
The BBC is a different proposition altogether. For starters, it has the hugely popular and successful BBC iPlayer already set-up and providing UK viewers with all original BBC content. Would it really want to lessen the potential audience and dilute its online video offering by also making its shows available on Hulu UK?
This whole concept seems to have been borne out of the collapse of Project Kangaroo, an effort to draw content from the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 together and offer it in one place. With that effort being killed off by the Competition Commission, it gave Hulu a chance to move in and try to tie up a deal with the parties involved. Although it has to be wondered what the CC would make of this deal as it would likely be just as powerful as Kangaroo was ever likely to be.
If this report of Hulu UK being on its way is true then it’s good news not only for British viewers but for viewers in the rest of Europe as well. It’s unlikely Hulu will stop at the UK and the venture proved to be successful would want to move into other territories.
The only downside would seem to be that local content will still be the main thrust of the service. I’d prefer if Hulu took a real lead and persuaded the networks and broadcasters to offer their content on a worldwide basis. Then there would be no need for a Hulu UK, just one Hulu that Internet users the world over could use. That would also kill video piracy stone dead.
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