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Summary:

As we reported earlier today, Disney has signed on to become part owner of Hulu. Posts immediately went up around the blog-o-sphere wondering what it all means. Sure it means something (check out Liz’s list of winners and losers in this deal), but it changes nothing. […]

mickeyAs we reported earlier today, Disney has signed on to become part owner of Hulu. Posts immediately went up around the blog-o-sphere wondering what it all means. Sure it means something (check out Liz’s list of winners and losers in this deal), but it changes nothing. Well, it changes one thing — Hulu now has three media companies to answer to instead of two.

As the first part of this year demonstrated, Hulu is not the master of its own destiny. In January, at the behest of FX, Hulu pulled nearly all three seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia from the site and issued the following apology on its blog (emphasis ours):

Despite Hulu’s opinion and position on such content removals (which we share liberally with all of our content partners), these things do happen and will continue to happen on the Hulu service with regards to some television series…

Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that.

This was followed up in February by the infamous Boxee Rebellion (<-- catchy!), that saw Hulu remove its service from the media center platform that made watching its content on TV sets that much easier. From another Hulu blog post (emphasis ours):

Our content providers requested that we turn off access to our content via the Boxee product, and we are respecting their wishes. While we stubbornly believe in this brave new world of media convergence — bumps and all — we are also steadfast in our belief that the best way to achieve our ambitious, never-ending mission of making media easier for users is to work hand in hand with content owners. Without their content, none of what Hulu does would be possible, including providing you content via Hulu.com and our many distribution partner websites.

In both instances Hulu says, in effect, “Hey, if it was up to us, you could have whatever you want, but it’s these dang content partners…” And as it states so plainly: No content, no Hulu.

Now Hulu has one more partner it needs to keep happy. And if you think NBC and FOX are protective of their brands, imagine what the company that owns Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana will require.

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  1. Chris, Fox, NBC and Disney are more than content partners/providers, they’re the owners of the business.

    As you noted, the Hulu press during those two incidents tends to play that fact down. Honestly, I’m surprised they get to play it that way in their public announcements. It’d be a lot more honest if they said things like “our shareholders have said…” or “our board of directors has determined that…”

  2. Disney Shows Now On Hulu | Takes An Equal Share Of The Company With NBC & News Corp Thursday, April 30, 2009

    [...] is an argument to suggest Hulu could also suffer under this regime change (or shifting of power). NewTeeVee argues that Disney is yet another content provider that will need to be kept happy. Keeping NBC and [...]

  3. Point: When Disney Met Hulu…Winners and Losers [NewTeeVee] | BYOHosting.com Blogs Friday, May 1, 2009

    [...] sparingly and pulling it off of cable disintermediary Boxee. Yes, it’s only two years (see Chris’ counterpoint to this piece), but the site will be much more entrenched by [...]

  4. Great perspective. People need to understand that its not just the providers.. sometimes it’s the advertisers.. and sometimes it is the providers and sometimes its bigger than that. In the end hopefully we all get what we want.. They get money.. and we get content for “sorta free”

    TheFuzz

  5. “the infamous Boxee Rebellion, that saw Hulu removed its service [sic] from the media center platform”

    I see more embarrassing grammatical errors on GigaOM sites than anywhere else on the smugosphere. It undermines your street cred when you don’t even proofread this stuff, especially when the number of stylistic errors are in inverse proportion to the arrogance of the substance.

  6. I really don’t see this as being a detractor to Hulu. It’s expected that not all content will be there. It’s expected that they may have an issue with Boxee (like general websites have an issue with the Diggbar framing their websites).

    Hulu has become part of my normal entertainment viewing. Tivo + Hulu = My schedule is free to watch what I want when I want. It actually helped me find a new show to watch – Fringe. Watched it first on Hulu, but have also on TV. Same with Southland.

    I admit, I’m a Hulu fanboi. Just like I was with Tivo and Netflix. The digital cable box is gone for me.

  7. The Levisa Lazer Friday, May 1, 2009

    [...] is an argument to suggest Hulu could also suffer under this regime change (or shifting of power). NewTeeVee argues that Disney is yet another content provider that will need to be kept happy. Keeping NBC and [...]

  8. Chris Albrecht Friday, May 1, 2009

    @OmyMalik,

    Goodness! Someone needs a nap. Thank you for pointing out that errant “d.” It was my fault. No excuses. It’s been fixed.

  9. Hulu — answerable to a growing number of masters | TV on the Internet: Bring it on. Friday, May 1, 2009

    [...] discussion about the Hulu-Disney deal over at NewTeeVee. Liz Gannes and  Chris Albrecht do a fabulous job of teasing apart the interesting [...]

  10. The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Hulu Now Ready to Take on YouTube? Friday, May 1, 2009

    [...] CTO Eric Feng. We have republished the interview today. For more perspective on the news, check out Chris Albrecht at NewTeeVee.  And, here’s the report in Friday’s New York Times by Brian Stelter and Brad [...]

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