Hulu Beta Testing

Hulu.com icon logoIn a largely speculative post last month, I wondered about the possibilities of Hulu, News Corp’s new online video venture.

Since then I’ve received my beta testing login details. With a great deal of excitement I went to Hulu.com to see what fantastic wonders would be presented to me.

None. If you’re in Australia, bad luck – it’s a case of look, but don’t touch.

For now, Hulu is a U.S. service only. That said, our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide. This requires clearing the rights for each show or film in each specific geography and will take time.

Being limited to North America because of distribution rights, international users are agonisingly teased by a long list of currently popular TV shows they can’t watch – Arrested Development, Family Guy, Scrubs, King of The Hill, My Name is Earl, The Office… the list goes on, and unless you have a beta login to Hulu (get on the waiting list) none of those links will get you anywhere.

With a login, choosing any episode from one of those shows takes you to the video player screen, right to the excited point of ‘Loading Video’ before slapping you in the face – rejection.

Hulu.com screen grab - Unfortunately this video is not currently available in your country or region. We apologize for the inconvenience.
But I want to take advantage of the options alongside the video player – share, embed, watch it full screen! Hopefully it’s not too long before something is up and running for Australia.

In a desperate attempt to see the video player in action, I tried some older shows in the hope they were no longer affected by distribution rights. Thankfully, even Doogie Howser episodes (Breaking Up is Hard to Doogie) from 1989 were unavailable.

ABC Now

In a continuing push to break new ground in digital media, ABC (Australia) has released ABC Now, a desktop media player for select ABC digital content.

The potential of this application is huge. When I read the description of what it would do, I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately the interface isn’t entirely user-friendly at the moment, but it’s in beta, so expect something great to come.

For what is obviously planned for this media player the ABC is again demonstrating why Australians go to them for original online audio and video content – because they try to make it easily accessible.

Often they succeed in the attempt, and that’s why their podcasts and vodcasts have enjoyed such popularity. ABC digital content has succeeded because it is available. If there’s not much to choose from, people move on. The ABC’s integration online of text, audio and video content is impressive, to say the least.

If you haven’t seen it, check out an example of their in-page video player on this story.

Hulu – the News tube

Earlier this year it was announced that News Corporation was developing a YouTube killer.  It was to be their own video serving site that was going to deliver full-length TV shows in a partnership with NBC, rather than the perceived notion (misguided I think) of the worthless fare served up on YouTube.

The News Ltd paper I work for (full disclosure) went so far as to declare in March 2007 that “YouTube’s dominance of online video content is about to end”.

Hulu.com is the outworking of that effort and is now in beta, and it’s looking pretty good.

Something very few news sites are doing today is incorporating social networking opportunities into their structure.  Even less are incorporating social networking into their video content – which remains for the most part clunky and unappealing.

Hopefully Hulu will change that for News Ltd/Corp.  This aspect of the current beta player is promising.

The “embed” function allows you to set in and out points, so you can embed just a selected chunk of a video clip on your blog.

I really hope this technology gets rolled out to all News Ltd/Corp sites, because it will exponentially enhance video content accessibility.

A review of Hulu at LostRemote.

Online Video overdose

The most basic and free video editing software (as in, you don’t have to go download/install it because it’s already on your computer) is usually okay for basic video users.

For Windows users there’s Windows Movie Maker, while I’ve found iMovie for the Mac is an ample resource for those quick edits and exports.

If you don’t have any video software that you can use on your hard drive, or are up for a little experimentation, there are a lot of online editing solutions.  I would recommend not trying them on dialup (as I have to at home).

Mashable has put together a very comprehensive resource.

Video Toolbox: 150+ Online Video Tools and Resources

There’s more information there than anyone can reasonably be expected to digest, and the following are just the categories under which they list resources:

  • Live Video Communications
  • Online Video How-to
  • Online Video Editors
  • Online Video Converters
  • Video sharing
  • Video hosting
  • Video organization and management
  • Vidcasts & vlogging
  • Video mashups
  • Mobile video apps
  • Video search
  • Online video downloading services
  • Miscellaneous tools
  • Online TV

They also have other posts in the series, with the Online Photography Toolbox, Blogging Toolbox, and Online Productivity Toolbox.