by Mark Messing
Think back to the show “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” I am of course assuming you have seen the show. If you haven’t, allow me to give you a quick description. People video taped themselves falling off of things, running into things, getting stuck in things, or standing next to their babies who did cute stuff. Then, Bob Saget would throw his voice into the video, as if the original wasn’t already solid gold material.
When you think about it, this show taught America two things:
1) It is cheaper for TV studios to give away an entire series worth of prize money to Joe-Schmo public for real time video than it is for them to pay Tim Allen for one episode of Tool Time. (Hence, The reality TV show seed was planted…sorta)
2) People like to watch other people get hurt, and act stupid. (Hence, the YouTube seed was planted.)
I’m going to focus on the second, because a lot of people say they don’t understand the popularity of YouTube. I think it is a safe bet that those same people have seen a full episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and that Bob Saget’s voice-over wasn’t the reason why they were watching.
When it comes to online video content, YouTube rules the roost. People like YouTube’s user created content, and they also like YouTube’s quasi-legal studio content. Many have tried to share the market with You Tube, and they have failed.
Hulu is what happens when two opposing forces combine to take out an enemy who they have not been able to vanquish by themselves. NBC and FOX have teamed up to offer a website which will offer free, full episodes of some of their most popular shows including, but certainly not limited to, The Simpsons. The Office, Family Guy, Heroes, Prison Break, and Arrested Development. NBC and FOX are long-time competitors, why would they team up to do anything?
The answer is simple. YouTube has been showing NBC and Fox’s content to us for free for a long time. The two networks could try and trudge through the legal process or they could be smarter than YouTube.
Each studio knew that they could provide better quality, studio-made content than YouTube, and that they could make it free as long as they included advertisements. They also understood that without teaming up with another network, they would only be able to provide a limited amount of content. It is kinda like when Peter Parker teamed up with Harry Osborn in Spider Man 3. Only with less sand, and more grey areas of copyright infringement.
You can sign up to for the Hulu private Beta, but the site is not completely open for business yet. They are probably still deciding whether they should offer “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”