No Moment of Zen: Viacom Takes Daily Show off Hulu

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Coming next week, Daily Show fans won’t be able to watch Jon Stewart’s show on Hulu anymore, according to a report from the New York Times Media Decoder blog. Comedy Central parent Viacom (s VIA) apparently wasn’t happy with the revenue Hulu was able to bring in for them, and it decided to exclusively distribute the show through its own web properties. Also affected by the move is The Colbert Report.

Hulu’s SVP of Content and Distribution Andy Forssell acknowledged the break-up in a blog post:

“In the past 21 months, we’ve had very strong results for both Hulu and Comedy Central, in terms of the views and revenue we’ve generated, thanks to a couple of key trends. First, more and more of our viewers have voted with their time by making these shows a regular part of their day. And second, we’ve driven steadily increasing revenue per view as advertisers voted with their budgets to take advantage of innovative ad formats and very strong advertising effectiveness. After a series of discussions with the team at Comedy Central, though, we ultimately were unable to secure the rights to extend these shows for a much longer period of time. “

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have consistently been two of the most-watched programs on Hulu. We’ll have to wait and see whether the site will be able to break the billion views barrier it easily surpassed in December without the two shows in months to come.

Related GigaOM Pro content (subscription required): Report: Delivering Content in the Cloud

9 Comments

Ryan Lawler

I find this really surprising, if only because in the past Viacom has been pretty aggressive about making all of its content available in an on-demand fashion online. MTV Networks and Comedy Central were some of the first cable properties to put the entire run of its shows online with South Park Studios, The Daily Show, and Colbert websites. To now see it back down from hyper-distributing its videos doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Thoughts

As part of the greater “TV Everywhere” initiative the MSOs are trying to lock all cable content behind authentication gateways. As it stands, Comedy Central’s assets are some of the more highly regarded cable assets both for analog and digital distribution. While not ideal for the consumer, from a business lens Viacom probably used leverage they had from Time Warner/ Comcast/ Etc. negotiations and asked Hulu for the same terms. As Hulu is (today) a purely ad supported business, they cannot match the notion of a per-sub fee or other revenue model which includes fixed (per sub fee) & variable (ads) payments for content.

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