Monday, February 2, 2009

Hulu Advertises on Television?

Hold on to your cable boxes, kids: TV's in for a bumpy ride.

On IWantMedia last Tuesday, I read that Hulu, a free online television show and movie provider, would be advertising during the Super Bowl on Sunday. This was to be Hulu's first advertisement to air over, well, the airwaves, marking an interesting conflict of interest: while Hulu could potentially take viewers away from their television sets and displace them in front of their lap- and desktops, the majority of the content that Hulu streams is from NBC, the station that aired the Super Bowl. So really, "displacement" is the most appropriate term for what could potentially happen if viewers turn off their sets and scoot over to their desks; NBC programs will still be watched, just through a different medium. And with the plus of less and briefer advertising, who could ask for anything more? And not having to buy DVR or TiVo equipment? Bonus for everyone!

Considering the slapstick, expected sense of humor that was rampant throughout all of the spots, Hulu's ad actually had a unique sense of humor. A bit darkly twisted, this ad pokes fun at the idea that television will soon move away from every one's sets and onto their "personal computing devices", a prophecy that is admittedly not that far-fetched. I canceled my cable service a week ago, and so far it hasn't been missed. Case in point: I found the following video online, not having watched it during its original air time. Was there something missed because I didn't experience the live event? I think not.

Of course, online programming will not completely replace television programming, at least not for quite some time. I'm not saying that this commercial has started a revolution, but I personally know several people my age who have never heard of Hulu. For that minority (and in more parts of the country it might be the majority), their curiosity might have rightly been piqued by this advertisement. It will be interesting to see if Hulu's traffic starts to get as insane as CNN's did during President Obama's inaugeration speech. Doubtful, but still...

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