Monday, December 17, 2007

Still Schweddy After All These Years

For your viewing pleasure (and to make this post satisfy my Christmas requirement), a delicious holiday dish from SNL:

I received an early Christmas present in my inbox today--an invitation to try hulu, a new online video site that has partnered with NBC Universal and News Corp. (Fox, among others) to stream video clips and entire episodes of new (and old) TV shows such as The Office, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Arrested Development and many others.

At this point, I would never pay iTunes to download an episode of a TV show, but it's nice to know that I now have the option of logging into hulu wherever I am (as long as my Internet connection is fast!) and watching clips/episodes of some of my favorite shows.

Best of all, it has a fairly decent archive of old skits from SNL. Since well before the dawn of Lazy Sunday, I've been thinking that SNL skits should be available online for repeat enjoyment. Previously, the only way to see old skits was to hope that they would find their way on one of the SNL "Best of" DVD collections or to hope you could catch it in reruns at some point. Enter hulu! I've already found a bunch of old skits that I had completely forgotten about and it's been wonderful--especially since there hasn't been any Schweddy Balls-caliber material coming regularly from SNL in quite some time.

Hulu and other sites of its ilk seem to hint at a larger phenomenon: Media companies have no way of knowing how to harness the online audience and make money from it. All of the media partners on hulu are basically giving their content away for free at this point. Sure, hulu makes you sit through a 15-second ad before each clip and full episodes contain a few 30-second ads, but it's not really a deterrent. This free-but-for-the-ads setup doesn't seem to bother the media company, as long as you're jumping through their online hoop to obtain the content. Take Lazy Sunday for example:
-Shortly after the skit aired almost exactly two years ago (has it been that long already?!), NBC made it available for free download on iTunes.

-Then it got 5 million hits on YouTube.

-Then NBC made YouTube take it down.

-Then NBC sold it on iTunes.

-Then it was back on YouTube.

-Then NBC joined hulu.

-Now it's not on YouTube.

-But it's on hulu.

Did you follow that? Whoever figures out the best way to deliver content in a format that people are willing to pay for will be a rich man indeed. Right now, online video appears to be an alternative to TV, but it's too vast, uncontrollable and publicly available for the media to harness at this point.

Bottom line? Add yourself to the hulu waiting list and watch your favorite shows while they're free!

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