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As expected, hulu.com is live and open to all with no log in, a bolder video look, more nimble and deeper navigation, and deeper programming, especially in movies. A few thoughts as I’ve dipped in and out today:
iTunes: Maybe it’s just me but the “we’re public” image at hulu.com looks a lot like the iTunes video ads at Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) stores. Technically, Hulu doesn’t compete directly with iTunes since it lacks downloads but it very well could eat into the market for people willing to trade economy and a little advertising for portability. The real competition could be with iTunes for AppleTV when it comes to library movies or series. For instance, assuming I can get it all to work, why pay for a download to watch in the living room? But Walt Mossberg makes a good point about Hulu’s lack of deadline. Really.)
Web video: Vuguru’s The All-For-Nots, eight channels from watchmojo.com, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) Digital Studios (web exclusive on how to make butternut squash soup).
Setting: A plus for the ability to make the profile settings private or public in one click; a minus for making “public” the default.
Advertising: I have yet to run into the options for ads about products of choice or watching a pre-roll trailer instead of commercials.
Upshot: Overall, a good experience got better. I agree with Walt about the lack of depth, especially on full-length series. Can I find something to watch? Yes? Is it always what I was looking for? No. Would portability make a big difference? Only if it’s as usable as this.
Last word from Walt: “Still,Hulu is a good start for Hollywood in finally providing a better experience for Internet streaming of TV and movies. If the service can add a lot more content and make viewing possible in more scenarios, it might strike a real blow against piracy.”