Hulu And The Value Of Content

The blogotwitisfacebooksphere has been all abuzz with the very idea that Hulu might be charging for content at some point in the near future. This piece at NewTeeVee does a good point of catching you up with the story so far.

I brought the idea up on Twitter and got back a few responses. This one was my favorite:

@colligan – You think HULU makes it with this model? They are getting greedy too quickly IMO.

Is it really greedy to make money from content that you own?

Is the problem greed – or just a bad business plan?

Of course, we could ask this question about Wall Street and Detroit – but that’s another post all together.

Hulu reminds me of some of the first dotcom bubble companies – they’re all about enjoying the ride but being honest enough to know that the ride ain’t gonna be around for long.

There was a company in Portland that would actually deliver to my office a pint of Ben and Jerry’s at cost. They would even pick up my dry cleaning at my house (and deliver it back) for less than I was paying at the time to take it to the dry cleaners (and, of course, they did so in these massive trucks “wrapped” with their branding). You bet I used the company and you bet I enjoyed the ride but, … let’s be honest, … I always knew it wouldn’t last.

Time to face some simple facts with Hulu:

1 – Yes, a single (30 second) commercial per break is wonderful but admit it, 75% of them are PSAs. If you can’t sell a single ad per slot – you can’t sell multiple ads per slot – even if people would “put up” with watching them. The ad model isn’t working for Hulu – and anybody who cares about the future of Hulu needs to ask if it ever will.

2 – The fact that Hulu starts each show with a reminder to watch it live with the full commercial experience reeks of a company who has sold some content owners a fascinating bill of goods. The reality that the EULA for their desktop player prevents you from hooking it up to a television set says more about what they think of their audience than this blog ever could. Hulu doesn’t like you skipping the traditional “channels” to consume content on your terms.

3 – The silly fight with Boxee – ’nuff said.

4 – The “experience” is wonderful and the programming is impressive but, admit it, they’re losing money on each and every stream. I’ll direct you back to my “You Can’t Handle The Truth” posting of over a year ago for more on that one.

I’ve said it multiple times – Hulu can’t scale and the coming Hulu is nothing like the one we have today. Personally, I’d prefer the paid model because my time is worth more than these silly commercials take.

And I honestly believe yours is as well.

Here’s the deal: Good content has value.

If we took half the energy spent on trying to figure out how to deliver it for free and put it towards coming up with a payment and delivery model that actually made sense, we’d all be better off for it.

How anyone can spend the money they do on connectivity but feel that the media said connectivity brings should be free is akin to thinking cds should be free because your paying for electricity – or that food should be free because you bought a fridge to hold it in.

When the futurists stop complaining about what the future is obviously bringing, we might get to enjoy the future a bit sooner.

‘just sayin …

Why A “Free” MP3 Player And A “Hookup” Is Always Worth Considering

So today Russell Brunson launched his “Micro-Continuity” program by giving away a free (he really does just charge shipping and handling of less than $10) MP3 player filled with the audios from his recently sold out event on the same topic. Brilliant model.

In the very first recording on the player he tells a story of working in an all-night diner when a friend of his came in and begged Russell to give him free coffee. In return, the friend promised to “hook him up.” The friend left Russell with a ten dollar tip and Russell paid the buck for the coffee and pocketed a tip of nine dollars. Had he not told the friend “sure,” the tip would have been a few nickels at best. We all have that kind of friend and can identify accordingly.

In this jaded world of Internet Marketing, you have to grab someone’s attention. A free MP3 player certainly does that.

Now you can probably guess the program after the free player. Russell “gives” a 14 day trial of his club and offers a few upsells and downsells. I’m sure conversion is great.

But here are the two elements of this program that I love:

I’ve been preaching the power of the pre-loaded media player for more than 3 years now. We did it with Podcast Secrets for the last three years to great success. It is a kick in the pants to see someone take it on such a significant launch. Face it, a FREE MP3 player screams “hook up” when in this New Media space the availability of free “valuable” content leaves few interested anymore.

BTW, if you do grab it, listen to the content before you erase the thing. Great stuff. Russell has an amazing mind.

The other element of a physical and virtual product offering with continuity in the back-end probably took Russell a great deal of $$ to pull off. We’ve had all that functionality in Premiumcast.com for some time now (for opportunities such as these). I have a feeling Russell’s launch will help me sell more new users into Premiumcast than I’ll ever direct his way.

I love this business.

We’re in an experience economy whether we like it or not. Whereas I’d love the value of content to stand alone, people still love a physical shell wrapped around all of it. A delicate balance of the physical and the virtual is coming soon – look for it.

If you interested in this model and further thoughts on it, I’ve got a 10 minute video over here. Don’t worry, though you don’t have to pay to watch it.

I’ll hook you up.

ISYOT Effect – Who Else Wants This?

I love the ISYOT effect.

Forget being at the top of the results, BE THE RESULTS.

Would love your comments below:

Podcast Secrets Reunion – A Physical Meetup For A Virtual Class?

On the Wednesday right before the New Media Expo, we’re hosting our 2nd annual Podcast Secrets Reunion.

A physical reunion for a virtual event? You bet … and let me explain why (and what you might learn from the concept regardless of what you think of the class (or Expo).

The virtual, the timeshift, the online – it’s all good – and it lets us do some very powerful things but sometimes … you need the face to face.

Sometimes you need to shake a hand, or heck even hug someone to help put it all together.

So we get together with past students who want to put it all together and then head into the New Media Expo as friends, with a partner, with a little bit of preparation, etc. It’s a good idea on many levels. Truth be told, my favorite part of the reunion was when we taught the students how to handle the Expo, who to listen to, who to steer away from etc. I can’t help but laugh at the memory of one reunion attendee who went to a party the first night and said “Paul, did you know that Adam Curry, th old MTV VJ was into Podcasting too?” Good times …

And of course, to add to this seemingly doublespeak piece (physical reunion for virtual class), I have to point out that we’ve got a few attending the reunion who weren’t actually Podcast Secrets students. It’s an offer we make because some need the physical first before the virtual. We even have a an option (although limited at 9) to buy next year’s class at this year’s rate so you can get in to the reunion at the alumni rate.

Truth be told, only a small percentage of the students will attend – but this realization (and reminder) that there is a real, physical element to all of this is good for everyone involved.

Oh and yeah, the content, … we’ll be covering some great things this round that help fill out the picture of what is so very possible in this very exciting New Media space.

Would love to see as many of you as possible at the Reunion. But with the numbers this Blog has, I’m thrilled that so many of you can learn about a concept so rich in possibility.

FWIW, the 50 person limit on the event is not artificial. It is all the room holds and lets us make sure our events is as intimate as we want it to be. Vegas is a big town with a lot of people – our get together will be the exact opposite. I recommend you do the same if you ever do something like this yourself.

Don’t Listen To Me, Listen To Vint Cert – Can You Handle His Truth?

A few months back I wrote that “You Can’t Handle The Truth” (about Podcasting). The general gist of the article was streaming isn’t our future, downloading content is. As sexy and as exciting at streaming is, dear friends, I still believe (scratch that, common sense dictates that) it “doesn’t scale.”

Vint Cert, “Father of the Internet” (of whom I’ve dug for a long time) and “Chief Internet Evangelist” over at Google says pretty much the same thing (with a bit more wisdom) in a video piece over at Beet.tv. In a very logical discussion of where the Internet is going, he explains why he feels most video content will be downloaded in the future.

Great stuff, take a look.

This is a very important issue that New Media types need to pay attention to. Developing for a streaming world is very different than developing for a downloading world. There are concerns for each and as we plot out this future, let’s do it in such a way that it, well, actually matches our future.

And our future – the media you want, when you want it, on the device you want it on.

No, you can’t control every aspect of that process – but that kind of complete control simply isn’t in our future.

We need to get over it.

If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Vint Cerf.

You Can’t Handle The Truth About Podcasting

First, please watch this embedded clip from YouTube to put you in the proper mindset.

You can’t handle the truth!

Son, we work on an Internet that has limits. And these limits can’t be changed with men with vc funding – no matter how much you’ve got.

Who’s gonna stream to millions at once? You? You, Hulu?

I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You praise streaming and you curse the Podcast. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not admitting what I know: that streaming, while sexy, simply can’t scale.

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, is the future of media online…

You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want portable time-shifted media. You need portable time-shifted media – without the restrictions that simply won’t scale.

We use words like streaming, drm, walls … we curse these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under tens of millions of dollars in funding without ever facing the truth, and then questions the manner in which I provide it!

I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you tell me how your plan on streaming to millions of users at the same time. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think our future is!

As much as I just enjoyed watching 30 Rock on Hulu a few minutes ago, …

Streaming won’t scale.

DRM won’t scale.

Devices that dial home with my watching habits won’t scale.

Oprah tried, and fell flat on her face, and then released everything she had via Podcast.

Did her impact change? Did she make any less money? Did they sell less copies of that “New Earth” book?

Do we have something to learn from Oprah?

Yes, we can track everything – but at some point it all falls apart. I point to the USSR and East Germany as recent examples.

Yes, we can stream video right now but it is simply nothing compared to a few million people watching American Idol on a Wednesday night. If you want the numbers television provides on our glorious Interweb then, dear friends, you’re going to have to find something that scales – something that “works.”

Podcasting can scale.

Without the need to call back home, without the need to worry about where every 1 and 0 is located, without the need to own it all, this can work. Podcasting can scale.

Streaming can’t.

DRM can’t.

You can’t handle the truth about Podcasting.

Thoughts?

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Podcasting Is Not Dead – It Is Also Not The Story Anymore

You’ve seen me tracking numbers as of late. My presentation at CES had a bunch of them too. I posted late last night about Wizzard’s numbers. Again, put pinky to lips, one BILLION downloads. Couldn’t be more thrilled.

Actually, I could be.

I think we’re telling the wrong story.

As a few million geeks fly home from CES this week, how come nobody is reporting on the technology that made their flights possible?

I mean, airflight certainly isn’t dead.

When Steve Jobs makes his keynote next week, how come nobody is going to report on the wonders of streaming Quicktime?

Streaming sure ain’t dead.

When everybody writes about YouTube, how come nobody takes time to talk about the Web browsers that make YouTube possible?

The browser ain’t dead yet.

May I suggest dear friends that yes, Podcasting ain’t dead … but it ain’t the story either.

The tech world would laugh at a piece about CES that said the real story was the jet planes that got people there.

Bloggers would tear apart any piece about Job’s keynote next week that went on and on about the streaming Quicktime and how great it was.

Even my Dad would wonder why a piece about YouTube spent time focusing the Web browser.

May I also suggest that pieces about what we’re doing that focus on the Podcast deserve the same response?

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Hulu Impresses

I got my Hulu beta pass yesterday.

And, before you ask, they don’t give you any passes or invites to give away – at least at this point.

First impressions are very nice. The video is very smooth and I’ll have no problems integration those shows into my little Year of Living Digitally experiment. Full screen looks as good, if not better, than any other system (minus, maybe the ABC HD stream options)

How long are the commercials? I actually skipped over content on new shows (King of the Hill), old shows (“Classic Battlestar Galactica”), and movies (The Jerk?) At this point the commercials at the commercial breaks are either absent, or short 15 second types. I’m sure they will/might change that in the future but I’m enjoying the experiment as it stands.

I’ve been streaming the NBC shows this season and have been enjoying the process/thought of streaming video on demand over the Internet. Hulu provides for the same experience, in better quality, with fewer clicks to get to the content, and a screen far-less messy.

I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.

FWIW, I’ve embedded the most recent episode of King of the Hill over at the Year of Living Digitally. Turns out the embed feature works with certain shows and not others (originally, I was going to embed last night’s Chuck) and won’t let you go fullscreen or pop out of the frame.

But you do get an idea of the streaming quality, ease of use, etc.

Good job NBC.

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Apple TV Gets Bigger And Streams YouTube. New Media’s Voice Cracked Today.

YouTube is coming to Apple TV. Middle of next month they say. The hard drives are getting bigger too – but that isn’t that important what with the incredible streaming job it does.

All this was announced today at D 2007. You can read the Engadget commentary here. I won’t bore you with the details – but do read every stinking word.

The truly geekly will notice that I added a YouTube category today. Until this point I really didn’t care because there were two audiences: those who watched on the computer and those who watched on the television.

YouTube.com now handles both audiences. Nobody else does it better. They call it “convergence.”

Everything changed today – and new media is better off for it. His/her voice cracked today in a first sign of puberty. I’ll stop with the analogies – but I hope you get what I’m saying.

Oh yeah, and there’s that whole new version of iTunes with non-drmed tunes as well.

It’s been a good day. I’m gonna eat me a steak tonight.

Tomorrow I start working, finally, on my YouTube strategy.

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CPM Is Dead

Tim Bourquin makes a great point about why CPM is “broken” over at his blog.

The only thing I’d ad to his comments is this … and it comes from all people … Microsoft. Enjoy the embedded video.

If it doesn’t happen in your reader, trust me and click on over to see this one.

CPM created the “guy” in this video. Anything that makes our audience just numbers created the guy in this video.

The gal in this video wants a divorce.

So do a lot of audiences.

I bet you if the guy treated her with the respect she deserved, she’d stay.

Again, gotta say thanks to Microsoft for this video. Now I hope/pray that they practice what the preach.

FWIW, Tim, your Podcast and New Media Expo is the only exhibitor booth conference that I’d spend money to attend, let alone buy a booth.

And I fully expect my booth at Podcast And New Media Expo to pay off much better than one at NAB, Comdex, or anything else could.

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