Monday, September 28, 2009

Studio Execs Still Don't Get New Media

I'm planning on heading out this evening but remembered that House MD, one of my favorite series, comes on at 8pm. Not one to schedule my social life around broadcast programming (shut up), I decided to check House's availability on Hulu. Sure enough, Fox is maintaining the same idiotic release strategy for House this season that it used last year: new episodes of House appear 8 days after they air -- in other words, each new episode is released to Hulu one day after the next sequential episode is broadcast on Fox. I can buy a gun faster than I can legally watch House online.

This sort of defeats the purpose of Hulu, does it not? I suppose some people watch their shows only on laptop computers by choice, but I think most people probably use Hulu to catch up on missed episodes before the next one airs. In any case, Hulu was created to combat the countless illegal torrent sites that offer pirated content commercial free. The theory behind Hulu is that if you provide convenient, high-quality, and legal online content with a handful of revenue-producing commercials, people will watch it, and so far the theory has proven accurate.

However, when a content provider like Fox chooses to set an inconvenient Hulu release for one of its top-shelf programs as it has with House, it is essentially persuading its consumers to leave Hulu for the torrent sites. How does that make any sense? Hulu produces ad revenue for Fox. Torrent sites don't. Why drive away a willing consumer?

To be fair, it probably isn't Fox specifically that has made this call. Fox has numerous other properties that follow the normal day-after-broadcast release strategy for Hulu. Even tonight's season premiere of Lie to Me, House's Monday programming partner, will be available tomorrow on Hulu (good thing too, I love that show). More likely, one of the numerous co-producers of House -- Heel and Toe Films, Shore Z Productions, and Bad Hat Harry Productions in association with Universal Media Studios -- has muddled things up. It's hard to say since Hulu doesn't provide much information regarding how release dates are determined.

Doesn't really matter who's to blame though, since the whole lot of them will be losing a few cents of ad revenue when I watch House on Surfthechannel tomorrow morning.

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