Archive for the ‘cable TV’ Tag

Will Hulu Kill Cable TV?

welcome-to-hulu

Throughout college, watching television never fit into my packed schedule. I buried myself under my books while my friends religiously watched America’s Next Top Model and Gossip Girl. Despite the fact that I was a Film Studies major, my pop culture literacy actually suffered. I looked forward to graduation partly because I would be released from academia’s paralyzing grasp to enjoy freedom. To me, that freedom included the ability to watch whatever I wanted in my spare time. I was eager to catch up on the recently released television series and movies I had missed during the past four years.

That was until the “real world” greeted me with an unfriendly job market and recession. As a recent graduate faced to pay her own bills, I quickly discovered that cable was a luxury item beyond my reach. But when I moved to Boston a few months ago, giving up television was not something I had to do, but actually something I wanted to do. My roommate and I had ambitious plans to listen to radio programming, read books, and even reserve a plot of land in the Fens to garden. We were going to prove to ourselves that we did not need TV for entertainment. However, we soon fell along the wayside. We cheated…kind of. What happened? We found Hulu.com.

Hulu, the joint video venture between NBC Universal and News Corp., gives YouTube a run for its money. For my roommate and I, Hulu was the next best thing to cable TV. In some ways, Hulu was better than cable. The database, although somewhat limited, offered a realm of free shows and movies with minimal commercial interruptions. For the first time, I was willing to watch extended video on my tiny computer with another person. We actually enjoyed watching the full-screen, high-quality video on my 14” laptop screen. For better or for worse, I eventually caved into my roommate’s demand for live sports broadcasting, and yes, I am now a digital cable subscriber. Nonetheless, I remain an avid Hulu fan. At least I have the option to revert back to it if and when the recession gets worse.

Because I was able to watch the Super Bowl XLIII on my own TV, I had the good fortune of watching Hulu’s highly anticipated first television ad. The blockbuster “Alec in Huluwood” commercial features Alec Baldwin, star of NBC’s 30 Rock, as an alien explaining hulu’s plot to rot viewers’ brains. The take-away comes with the closing tagline, “Hulu. An evil plot to destroy the world. Enjoy.” I never imagined a more sinister, self-aware motto was possible. Hulu pushes the boundaries and subtly threatens cable television. I am officially scared.

The premiere of this nationally televised ad, along with Hulu’s one-year birthday that marks its public debut coming up on March 12, signals the beginning of the website’s success for 2009. Hulu is already the sixth most viewed video website, and I bet you would be hard pressed to find that video downloading will be more popular than instantaneous video streaming in the near future.

Hulu is the advent of something big (note the nod to my blog’s title). As the website continues to draw on network programming and build its advertising base, viewership will grow as the novelty of on-line video watching wears off and eventually becomes an established past-time. The humorous, menacing tagline is not far off the mark. Hulu may or may not destroy cable viewership, but it will certainly revolutionize the media world.

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