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Summary:

Last week, I watched the season premiere of Lost on Hulu, because I was in Portland, OR and thus far away from my DVR. The only reason I mention the fact that I was in Portland was because if I’d been watching at home in LA, […]

Last week, I watched the season premiere of Lost on Hulu, because I was in Portland, OR and thus far away from my DVR. The only reason I mention the fact that I was in Portland was because if I’d been watching at home in LA, I don’t think I would have noticed this:

A logo for an unfamiliar ABC station, plastered in the bottom left of the video player. A quick Googling indicated that the logo belonged to KATU, the locally-owned Portland ABC affiliate — which meant that Hulu was tracking my IP address for the purpose of plugging the station that aired the show originally in that location.

Looking into it, I discovered that the appearance of affiliate branding on video content tracks across all ABC series currently hosted on Hulu — though it’s something most of us in major cities will never notice, as affiliates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and others are owned by ABC, meaning that the affiliate branding looks like this:

An ABC representative, speaking on background, confirmed that the affiliate branding is part of ABC’s deal with Hulu, and is also consistent with their digital strategy on ABC.com, where an affiliate brand also appears as a graphic on the official video player.

What’s interesting to consider here is how network affiliates are going to fit into the new evolution of television down the line. Currently, when banded together they have a considerable amount of power — the cancellation of The Jay Leno Show (which then triggered Conan O’Brien’s exit from The Tonight Show) was motivated by affiliates being extremely unhappy with NBC’s crumbling ratings during the 10 PM hour, which in turn affected their local newscasts.

While ABC/Disney is a relative newcomer to Hulu and not a co-founder like NBC and Fox, it’s understandable that they have a different relationship with the site, as well as a different approach to balancing their relationship with their affiliates and web distribution destinations. The question I have is: will NBC and Fox feel the pressure from their own affiliates to increase their branding down the line? Or might Hulu one day be considered an affiliate in its own right, one that doesn’t serve a metropolitan area, but instead serves the entire World Wide Web?

Thanks to Chancey, Celeste and Ryan for their help with screencaps!

Related Pro Content: In Fox-Time Warner Cable Blackout, Will Hulu Keep the Lights On?

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  1. i think the answer is at least that a bunch of people in the affiliate business are email this to each other today. good eye & good reporting!

  2. Oscars Sacrificial Lamb in Disney-Cablevision Dispute < Broadcast « After the Transition Thursday, March 4, 2010

    [...] via Hulu, ABC and Local Affiliates: A Strange Secret Threesome. [...]

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