Hulu’s New Owner: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo?


Lots of speculation in the news about Hulu’s new owner. The Hulu peeps (Disney, NBC) opted against an IPO (initial public offering), and have an investment banker looking for a buyer.

Are we surprised that Hulu is for sale? Nope. In 2006 (give years ago) we posted that “Networks Pretend They Can Rival YouTube.” These types of things, I said, typically fail without “a STRONG intermediary is taking the lead and the individual players give authority and accountability to that player. Otherwise the interests of specific participants will almost always trump to collective goal.”

The news was dense with suggestions that Google might acquire Hulu. But despite suggestions Google and Hulu are in preliminary discussions, I’m finding that unlikely. Hulu is rumored to be trying to fetch $2 billion, which seems awfully high to me. I would suspect MSN or Yahoo would find far more interest than Google. The search giant paid less than $2 billion for YouTube ($1.65 billion), and I’m sure there is at least one tech company that would pay $2 billion simply to keep it out of Google’s hands.

What do you think?

10 Predictions for Online-Video in 2010

I’m a bit late on my online-video predictions for 2010 (unless you count this December post). The landscape continues to change, and it seems the world has been slow to catch up with my 2008 and 2009 predictions. Heck I even made a video in 2006 predicting 2007.

Here’s what I’m seeing in Online Video for Twenty Ten. Don’t forget to read the predictions from December from many WVFF guests who be smarter then my.

  1. Continued web-to-television bridges. While we’re still far from a merge of cable, television and online-video, we’ve seen some interesting changes already. Roku, Netflix, AppleTV, and a few brave television manufacturers pre-embedding software and wireless access or Ethernet plugs. I’m going o once again bet on the lazy man’s alternative to setting up their own PC media player. I see a $199 device that allows us to access the Internet right from our televisions. It’s a small PC, a remote-controlled keyboard and mouse, and it plugs into any television via HDMI or even less progressive connections.
  2. More stars dive into online video. Ashton Kutcher, Felicia Day, Tom Green. These guys have embraced new media, and there’s a wild rush to Twitter. 2010 is the year that more stars put themselves on YouTube. Don’t believe me? Wired reports Kutcher IS the future of video. They won’t always “go viral” but their strong fan bases offline will propel them to the most-subscribed pages of YouTube, eclipsing many of the web purists.
  3. AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo Catch Up. Ironically, the laggards are web portals and search engines that had a media bent a decade ago. Google leapfrogged them with YouTube. They can’t stand on the sidelines forever. Watch for these players cutting deals with larger players (cable, telecommunications, etc.) to establish their dominance. Since it’s almost impossible to battle YouTube directly, they’ll focus on partnerships with tech companies and premium content providers. The result may not be as popular, but it will command the attention of advertisers that like pro content and “safe” plays.
  4. Programming Not Sporadic. When I was posting daily, I didn’t realize how important that was. It kept my audience active, and ensured my recent videos got 50-100,000 views. In past months, I’ve posted unpredictably and as little as 10 times a month. The result? I’ve¬†plateaued. Meanwhile the regular posters (Sxephil, WhatTheBuckShow, CharlesTrippy and ShayCarl) are souring. The creator community is learning about the vital need to post predictably. ZeFrank used to post at 1:00 daily. TheOnion was always updated online on Wednesday. If you’re not predictable, you’re forgotten. Many amateurs are hosting live shows once a week, and the crowds flock to see their favorite “stars” unplugged. Audiences like routines.
  5. Division of Audience Focus in Conferences and Publishing. In the early days of the Internet, attendees included marketers, tech folks, and about every other business function that thought the web was going to be more than a fad. Online-video conferences and publications have taken the same approach. Watch in 2010 as conferences and publishing focus on more concrete audiences. AdTech for advertisers. StreamingMedia for technology people. And other conferences for marketers or web-studio playas. These conferences are too frequent and too broad to serve any audience well.
  6. Niftier Audience Participation. We’re still doing little more than putting VHS tapes online. The power of Web 2.0 (or 4.0 or whatever the hell you want to call it) is the interactivity and the engagement it facilitates in storytelling. Sure we saw 2009 videos that took advantage of “annotations” to create “choose your own adventure” series. But watch as advertisers and content creators merge to create more robust engagement experiences built on video, but with lots of tools that create a deeper, immersive experience. SevenEcho is one company to watch.
  7. White Dwarfs and Luminous SuperGiants. The lifecycle of the average weblebrity is compressing, despite a handful of amateurs that have maintained a vibrant presence. In 2010 we’ll see some new talent and more popular talent fading. There are not many people that have the persistence and creativity to sustain a continued audience. There are “Gary Larsons” that burn bright but short. There are Charles Shulz’s that don’t stop until they die (or their lines become jagged like someone drawing on a motor boat).
  8. Advertisers Forced In. Every year we predict advertisers will finally embrace online video (but the spend levels are not proportionate to the audience reach). That pretty much HAS to change dramatically in 2010. Not enough impact on television’s fragmenting and depleting audiences. So even the most traditional and laziest media buyer will be forced by marketers to spend more and spend more wisely. Watch for more obnoxious takeovers on YouTube and other sites, but also some clever alternatives that get brands “inside” the content.
  9. There is No 9th Preduction. That’s because I have to go wake up the kids, and don’t have time.
  10. News, News, News. We have watched as “consumer generated media” has made its way to many televised news stories. Now that cell phones with video cameras are fairly common, we’ll see more of this. And that prediction I made years ago… a live broadcast from some crisis directly from a person’s cell phone? That’s happening in 2010 or I’ll stop predicting it. I promise.