Hulu vs. YouTube

The first place I stop by when I’m thinking about watching television through my computer is Hulu. Besides having great content (Fox and NBC along with accompanying movie studios), the video quality is pretty good and there are few commercial interruptions. The user interface is also easy to navigate.

Yes, YouTube has much more content, though it’s often the 30-second “who knew?” or “Wow, never thought I’d see that!” variety; however, the quality is generally bad, um usually on a grainy VHS level, and let’s be honest – it’s not a site you got to find something specific to watch, you go when there is nothing to watch hoping to find something.

That’s a big distinction.

Even Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks Hulu is kicking YouTube’s ass. From a purely business (hence monetization) standpoint.

Hulu has one HUGE advantage over Youtube, it has the right to sell advertising in and around every single video on its site. It can package and sell any way that might make its customers happy. Youtube on the other hand, has that right for only the small percentage of the videos on its site that it has a licensing deal with. For probably 99pct or more of the videos on the site, Youtube isn’t supposed to know what they even are.

How can that be ? Because Youtube hides behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Hulu is a media site that presents videos with advertising. It can do whatever it wants. Youtube ts a hosting service. Its not allowed to know what videos are uploaded by users and its not allowed to generate revenue against those videos. It can only sell advertising around videos it has licenses to.

Almost makes Google’s $1.2 billion purchase of YouTube look superfluous. Cuban predicts that as more users flock to Hulu and the company begins to pull in more revenue from their content, they will be in a position to keep rolling out the best content on the web. It would be nice if Hulu were a one-stop repository for all broadcast stations – if they added ABC, CBS and The CW to it’s lineup. Regardless, they’ve already announced plans to release new content every day throughout the summer. Today, you can watch PBS’s venerable show NOVA!

Even the recent announcement of long-form videos (up to 1GB) won’t be enough to help YouTube. With that amount of data you could upload a one-hour HiDef show or a feature length standard definition movie, however, savvy users want high quality.

I loath YouTube’s grainy video quality and would gladly go elsewhere to watch movies or television shows to avoid it. When they fix that problem, which is difficult with user-generated videos, then I’ll be excited about the site. Even Vimeo, which is user-generated has exceptional video quality.

Should be intriguing how this plays out in about six months time.

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