Hulu Brings NBC (and FOX) Back to YouTube

Hulu, the network-approved and operated online video service, was conceived as a “YouTube killer” — a way for big media to go to the Internet on their own terms. But now things have come full circle. Hulu, the launch of which prompted its parent NBC to pull down all its content from YouTube, has now started a YouTube channel of its own — with NBC’s (and FOX’s) blessing. The LA Times first posted about this last night.

The channel was put up on March 3, just prior to Hulu’s public launch, and contains clips from shows including Family Guy, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live and The Office, all less than 3 minutes long. Hulu isn’t a formal YouTube partner, just a member like anybody else. The only ads are for Hulu itself (in fact, everything is liberally sprinkled and overlaid with Hulu logos and promotions).

But a little good content goes a long way on YouTube, a.k.a. the land of people pointing camcorders at their TV sets. The channel has about 4 million views (mostly for Family Guy clips), making it the 68th most-viewed channel on all of YouTube this month. And that’s with just 37 total videos.

Asked to give a comment on the YouTube channel, Hulu spokesperson Christina Lee said,

“It was absolutely planned by Hulu. We know that there are opportunities to find audiences all over the web. These are short promotional clips and we’re working with NBC and FOX on this.”

Conditioned by years of bootlegs, some YouTube users aren’t clear on the fact that the Hulu content is legitimate. “you ROCK! great videos! never take them off!” wrote one commenter. “you are in serious breach of TOS,” said another.

A cynic might see this as Hulu crawling back to YouTube to beg for users. But I think it’s kinda cool that the spawn of old media is teaching its parent some new tricks.

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