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Critics Bash NBC-Fox Online Video Site Hulu.Com

Hulu.com, the NBC-Fox joint venture intended to showcase their shows on one site, is facing a barrage of criticism just days before its expected launch. Why are analysts declaring it a failure already?

Digital Journal — YouTube and its many protégées have always been nasty thorns in the side of major networks, but they’re fighting back. NBC and Fox will launch their joint video site Hulu.com in private beta form on Monday, according to a source at TechCrunch. This contender to YouTube won’t be as impacting as the networks expect, say several industry analysts.

Hulu.com will offer episodes from Fox and NBC, and major Internet players like Yahoo and MySpace will make Hulu content available on their Web portals. Joining Fox and NBC to provide video on the site are cable channels Fuel TV, Oxygen, Speed and Sundance Channel.

Sounds like a recipe for success? Not so fast.

Todd Dagres, general partner of venture capital firm Spark Capital, is pessimistic about Hulu’s arrival, telling CNN:
The odds of it succeeding are low…[It’ll] be a drop in the bucket in terms of the video entertainment available on the Web.An executive in digital media, who wished to speak to CNN anonymously, said the NBC and Fox relationship has always been tenuous, and that conflict likely won’t be resolved by the Hulu partnership:
Strategic partnerships are always a challenge and most don’t work. I think this one is likely to achieve little to moderate success, based on the nature of the two involved.
Another blow to Hulu’s good fortunes was the stiff-arming it faced from three key players in Big Media: CBS, Disney and Viacom declined to join the Hulu team.

What’s also worth noting is that the Hulu launch is several years too late. TV content can be streamed from various link sites like Video Lemon and DailyMotion, and Comedy Central is already doing Hulu one better by providing all episodes of The Daily Show on one site. It’s unclear if any pay walls will block users from accessing premium content, and it’s also uncertain how much NBC and Fox programming will flood the site. Anything short of complete episodes will be disappointing.

When networks venture into a territory they know little about (e.g. online), there is potential for immediate failure. Hulu.com has all the markings of a ho-hum site filled with spotty content from NBC and Fox, but will it attract the ardent Web nerd obsessed with torrents and LimeWire? The major networks have an uphill climb, and it will be intriguing to watch how — and if — they reach the peak.

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