A long while ago, I got my degree in film theory from Columbia University. I was lucky enough to have James Schamus as my thesis advisor, who kindly tolerated my thesis focusing on Women in Prison films, dripping with feminist theory, Lacanian analysis and other semiotic psychobabble. When I graduated from school, I first took a production position at Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and found my way to San Francisco to take a job working with Don Johnson on Nash Bridges.
While that period of my life is long ago, and I have traded in “traditional” for digital and interactive, I still get a thrill of thinking that I was somehow distantly connected to Miami Vice even if I was too young to even consider working on the show when it first came out.
So imagine my excitement when I got my beta invite to Hulu and discovered that I can view each episode of Miami Vice for *free* on Hulu! I know what I’m doing tonight…
At first glance, Hulu seems like a great service, with access to some of the hottest shows around, including The Simpsons, 24, and Heroes, as well as some rather seemingly random ones like WKRP in Cincinnati.
While the overall content is currently small, there are plenty of shows to occupy your time through many months of a WGA strike. Partners include Fox, NBC Universal and other quality content developers, so I expect that the range of content will continue to expand as Hulu moves out of beta.
Similar to Joost, Hulu takes a “sponsored” advertising approach. One show I watched was sponsored by Intel, and another by esurance, so for the time being, it seems that Hulu is taking a one show-one advertiser approach. Which is probably bearable by most people who watch the programming.
Unlike Joost, you don’t have to install an application to view the content – you simply watch the content directly on your Internet browser. That’s probably going to be a big differentiator when it comes to user adoption. Even though it is browser based, the performance seemed ok, and rather zippy in delivery, but there definitely is a lower-quality level than what you see on iTunes downloads. Hulu also just introduced HD content – and while the HD programming is limited, it is another reason to play with the service while you are waiting out the writer’s strike….
Overall, Hulu is a great looking, clean and simple to use site that will definitely give Joost a bit more competition in the online streaming video space. I’ll definitely be using it until Big Bang Theory, Weeds, and Entourage return to air.