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Hulu.com Serves as TV Fix During the Writers Strike

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

January 7, 2008

Comments (8)

Hulu LogoIf you've been missing your favorite shows, some of the networks have figured out a way to keep your appetite whetted and consumer loyalty by making full-length sitcom episodes from previous seasons available online at Hulu.com for your viewing pleasure.

Presently in Beta (testing phase), the Hulu site is poised to be network television's answer to YouTube as well as a viable means of keeping fans of shows currently affected by the Writers Guild of America strike happy and served at their convenience online with content on demand... free of charge.

Hulu

What's your television viewing schedule been like since November 5th, 2007?

If that date sounds vaguely familiar, it is the day that the Writers Guild of America first went on strike stopping production in its tracks as actors in support of the writers refused to cross picket lines and pop culture as we knew it began to rely solely upon news programs, reality TV and reruns.

With the strike going strong for slightly more than two months, people have had to find alternative sources for their entertainment, many opting to play more videogames to the delight of videogame retailers and still more people who are getting their fix via the Internet by visiting sites such as YouTube and are downloading audiobooks from Audible among other online sources.

Although a couple of production companies have signed deals with the WGA (Writers Guild of America) like David Letterman's Worldwide Pants, and most recently, Tom Cruise's United Artists' interim agreement with the WGA to bring back feature film writers, other shows (the majority) are still on the outs and will not likely return for the season unless a similar deal is struck or the strike comes to an end.

One of the most recent casualties of the WGA strike is the Screen Actors Guild's boycotting of the Golden Globe Awards. According to a statement from SAG, none of their members are going to be acceptors or presenters at the traditionally star-studded event broadcast on national television.

Along the same vein, one might suspect that the Oscars will also be boycotted... that is, unless the strike ends (SAG is in full support of the WGA strike) or a "special arrangement" is made.

Hmm...

What does that mean for Hollywood and the entertainment industry where viewers are concerned?

In recent days Hulu.com has found a place in my life in lieu of television.

What is Hulu?

Essentially, Hulu.com is a website where you can watch premium content from networks such as NBC for free with very few commercial interruptions.

Just last night, we devoured an episode of NBC's "The Office" from a previous season that was sponsored by automotive company Chevrolet. There were about six very short ads promoting the company's vehicles that were unassuming and almost seamlessly incorporated into the episode.

While some previously thought that there wouldn't be any money in webisodic content, it is now apparent that there is money to made in advertising during the viewing of said content, however, the players who are benefiting have changed.

If you're itching for some Dunder Mifflin action, even from past seasons, you can get it at Hulu, Steve Carell and all, courtesy of major sponsors the likes of Chevrolet.

Something I noticed about the Chevy ads, and perhaps this is specific only to these particular ads, is that there was no voice over included. Visual marketing with a soft, lyric-free music bed made for easy transitioning between the programming and the advertisements.

How do you get in on this hot website?

Apply to sign-up for the Hulu beta testing program here.

What do you think about the Writers Guild of America strike?

I'd love to hear your thoughts now that it's two months in.

Cheers,

Stephanie

Related Topics: Audible, awards, Chevrolet, David Letterman, Hollywood, Hulu, Hulu.com, industry, SAG, Tom Cruise, TV, United Artists, videogames, WGA, Writers Guild of America, Writers Strike, YouTube


Comments


    Stephanie,

    Coincidently, today at TheIssue.com we featured an article that posed the question when will we see the return to “the days of ‘Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’?” While the Office being sponsored by Chevrolet is certainly a step in that direction, it will be interesting to see if this is the next step towards a truly Internet based television model. Only time will tell.

    Cheers,

    Mike
    The Issue | www.TheIssue.com

    P.S.- how long did it take for hulu to send you a password?

    Posted by:

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for commenting and reading the article! Welcome, my friend.

      It took the folks about a month to send the password. We'd nearly forgotten about it and then one day it arrived to our sheer delight.

      Best,

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        Full disclosure: not a member of WGA.

        Having said that, writers' don't see any residual compensation from the likes of Hulu, so to support them, I boycott the service.

        Secondly: I honestly think Hulu's lame. You can't buffer the content so it comes out all jaggy as it uploads to your computer.

        Of course, the screen looks better than any YouTube video, but that is the future of the medium anyway.

        Posted by:
        • TanjaB
        • January 7, 2008 3:19 PM

          I joined Hulu just last week, but not because I'm Jonesing for prime time content. Hulu is an example of where media is heading. For years, the bigwigs have been poking the Internet with a stick and asking, "How do we make money with it?" The answer is the same when those newfangled inventions television and radio came out: advertising. Now that they're coming up with ways to track who watches what how often online, now they can bring ad buys to the table. Also, it's taken this long for them to know why TV viewing has gone down (can anyone say Tivo?). This will have a HUGE effect on the VO industry and it's already happening. Pay close attention, my friends...

          Posted by:

            I am torn about the writers. I have written radio and tv ads for my entire career (non-union), and it's just understood that the work belongs to your employer after they pay you to write it.

            Posted by:
            • Kathy Williamson
            • January 8, 2008 9:47 AM

              The agreement between producers and writers has been based on a tacit agreement: the writers agree to a smaller fee up front in exchange for sharing potential profits on the back end. This helps producers up front, and allows the writers to share in the risk, and then, appropriately, share in the return when there is any. Don't forget that most TV shows die in their first season (or even before the public ever sees them) and those shows don't earn the writers any residuals.

              If the producers want the writers to give up residuals, they should be prepared to pay significantly more up front. Of course they've gotten used to the rates they pay, and appear to have forgotten that the writers are doing them a favor by sharing in the risk.

              Posted by:
              • Mark Harper
              • January 9, 2008 1:45 AM

                Thank you Mark. That clarifies a lot for me.

                Posted by:

                  I just think that like SAG boycotting the Golden Globes, everyday joe's should be doing their part, too. I'm sick of nonsense movies and TV shows. The best of TV and film is always a product of creative people behind the scenes.

                  Big networks are too concerned about profit to bother with what the consumer wants. We need to stand in solidarity with the writer's and demand better content. As long as we accept the mindless dribble that drones on, nothing will change.

                  If there was a movement of consumers to boycott certain mindless shows, it seems we could help bring about an end to this strike. If enough people stopped watching the hour-after-hour of reality shows that are now playing and demanded a return of scripted, thoughtfully creative programming, we could make a difference. If no one watches, the advertising isn't effective, and networks are impacted.

                  Am I wrong? Why isn't more being done to create a movement among consumers to demand more?

                  Posted by:
                  • Sarah
                  • January 13, 2008 10:19 PM

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