Poor Hulu. Born to a conglomerate of traditional TV networks that finally admitted they needed to do something about this whole, “web video” world, the company was always caught in a kind of Cronos paradox: the parents might kill their own child rather than let it grow up to threaten their power.
Recently the networks decided they would be better off selling Hulu to somebody else, making it easier down the road to reap lucrative fees for licensing the content they currently put on Hulu for free. But now it seems FOX (FOXA) has decided it can’t even wait for that sale to go down before basically cutting Hulu off at the knees.
The News Corp. network has announced that starting August 15th it will no longer put shows on Hulu the day after they air. No more logging in the next morning to catch an episode of Family Guy or Glee. While nothing is set in stone yet, the well-informed Peter Kafka expects the other big networks to follow suit.
The caveat is that Hulu Plus users and people who can prove they pay for cable will get next day access. The rational behind this move is that the networks want to protect the billions of dollars they make in “retransmission” rights from the big cable providers. Having to share with the web the next day devalues the product in the eyes of the big cable companies. And digital ad dollars are peanuts compared to what traditional TV is kicking back to the networks.
The networks might argue that users who really want access to these shows will pay up for them, but as Mr. Kafka points out, it is now ridiculously easy to find pirated copies of most network programming on sites like Sidereel.com. And Sceper.eu. No wonder Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is so pissed off.