updated 09:50 am EDT, Tue March 11, 2008
Hulu Public Tomorrow
The Fox and NBC-Universal joint project Hulu will leave its private beta stage tomorrow, the companies revealed on Tuesday. The web-based service will soon allow all US residents with high-speed Internet access to stream TV shows and movies over Flash for free through dynamic ads that appear at key segments; in a new version, users can even pick which ads they see, Hulu's operators note. On its official debut, the service will also add TV shows produced by Warner Bros. and will have both NBA and NHL highlight reels as well as full-length historical NCAA basketball games.
The launch provides Hulu the largest catalog of legal, free TV content online and is expected to test the viability of NBC-Universal's strategy, which saw it withdraw from iTunes over attempts to alter pricing strategy and turn both to Hulu as well as to competing but smaller download services such as SanDisk's Fanfare. Unlike either the Apple or SanDisk services, Hulu doesn't offer a downloadable version of its content for copy protection reasons. The web service also frequently rotates content and sometimes removes older show episodes in favor of new ones.
NBC-Universal is also working to add content from competing TV networks such as ABC and CBS but has not said when it hopes to make Hulu available outside of the US.