By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 7, 2008
If 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.
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.
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.
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.
I'd love to hear your thoughts now that it's two months in.