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Hulu, the online video site jointly owned by NBC Universal and News Corp and highly touted as a YouTube alternative, is expected to launch Monday. Well, at least a "beta" version is set to be available. (Who doesn't launch a beta version these days?) As I reported while still working as a columnist/correspondent for MarketWatch back in March of this year, when NBC and News Corp first announced the joint venture, the site will be ad-supported and will feature full-length films and TV episodes. As originally intended, hundreds of episodes of hit shows, such as Heroes, 24, House, My Name is Earl, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, Prison Break, and Top Chef (one of my favorite shows), as well as movies, like Borat or The Devil Wears Prada are available. The distribution partners, consisting of Yahoo, Comcast, AOl, MSN and MySpace, will feature the site's content in an embedded player.
News Corp COO Peter Chernin told me back in March that American Idol would not be available. And, that hasn't changed. The popular show isn't available.
What seems to have changed, however, is the company's view of user-generated content. Back in March, Chernin and NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said they plan to accept user-submitted content. As I wrote back then:
"The new site will also accept user-submitted content, and the executives - News Corp's Chernin and NBC Universal' CEO Jeff Zucker - expect users to mash-up their own user-submitted videos with the copyrighted material. Chernin said that the new management team will determine which shows get top billing on the joint site. Zucker said that users will control which shows get the top billing because the shows that appear at the top will be the ones that are either most viewed or highest rated."
Based on published reports, Hulu won't be taking user submissions. That's a shame.
If this site is just about professionally-produced content, then I think the executives fail to realize how media will be produced in the future.
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