Hulu Eating At Digital Britain’s Table; Kangaroo Gently Weeps

imageThere’s an irony about new Hulu international SVP Johannes Larcher’s appearance on stage at Friday’s Digital Britain Summit that must surely stuck in Kangaroo’s craw. As ministers and the industry convene to roadmap the UK’s online policy future, it should have been the BBCWW-ITV-C4 VOD venture taking the limelight. But the Competition Commission put paid to that – instead, the NBC-News Corp (NYSE: NWS) JV now has a place at the top table…

Larcher used his panel appearance as a sales pitch to the market here, describing Hulu as “a win-win-win solution for consumers, content owners and advertisers”: “We believe this model would work really well in the UK – there is evidence that it will – just look at the success of iPlayer.”

Asked by panel chair Nick Higham if the absence of a big competitive rival (err, Kangaroo?) makes the US venture’s roll-out easier, Larcher suggested yes: “If you look at iPlayer, it’s based exclusively on BBC content – that’s very valuable content – but it’s only one set of content. There’s a lot of other content around – part of our success is aggregation, bringing all kinds of content partners under one roof that is easy to use for the consumer.”

Was anyone from the Competition Commission in the room? Despite it blocking the homegrown Kangaroo, Hulu is set to get a clear run at aggregating and selling ads on TV shows from Kangaroo’s own partners and others. There’s one big difference, of course – neither News Corp nor NBC has a UK TV business as significant as BBCWW-ITV-C4 combined, so there’s not as big an antitrust concern around either programme rights or advertising rates. But that the commission couldn’t work out a solution to support an indigenous business will play on the minds of Kangaroo’s 50 out-of-work contractors.