TV Networks Mistreating Hulu Viewers | Online Video Episode Restrictions Are An Injustice

1 min read

Hulu is a brilliant service which only adds to a typical viewer’s options for what to watch and when to watch it. This is especially true during the summer months when television isn’t at its best. But the TV networks are enforcing bizarre and strict restrictions that aren’t doing them or the viewers any favors.

Hulu – Almost Perfect


has done many things right since launching early in 2008. It’s a free service which operates by using non-obtrusive advertising to pay the bills. The content partners are many and varied, and include three of the four major U.S. TV networks.

The only things preventing Hulu from being the best thing ever created are the fact it’s limited to viewers in the United States only (a situation likely to change soon), and the bizarre restrictions being placed on big-name shows by content owners.

As TechCrunch rightly points out, this latter issue is actually the content providers kicking themselves fairly and squarely in the ass. They are missing out on a golden opportunity to promote their shows, both the successful ones with a huge audience on traditional TV and the ones which could build a loyal fan base on the Internet.

The Big Issue

What’s happening is that content owners are placing very varied restrictions on how many episodes of shows it will allow on Hulu. They also dictate which series these episodes can come from, and where in the series they’ll come from.

Typical examples are five episodes being available from the end of series five, or three episodes from the middle of series one being available to watch. Which is fine for those people using Hulu to catch up on those episodes they’ve missed. But little use for anyone else.

Missed Opportunity

The TV networks and content providers probably think they’re doing the sensible thing by kind of embracing online video but not giving away the whole farm. And they’re obviously right to a certain extent because by making every episode ever made of a particular series available to watch on Hulu or the like, DVD sales and syndication deals are going to suffer.

But wouldn’t it be better to follow a strategy which is likely to grab new viewers? Show the first half of the current series of a TV show and you’re likely to grab extra devoted fans who’ll then seek out older series on DVD. Or if a show is still airing on traditional TV, show the whole of the first season and draw new viewers in who’ll then watch the current and future series on TV.



is obviously blameless here, but the TV networks and smaller content owners are following a strategy that is doing no one any favors. Embrace online video, give Hulu users what they want, when they want and gain new viewers for life. And as an added bonus help prevent people from turning to file-sharing networks when they fail to find what they want on more legitimate services.