Wednesday, December 24, 2008

5 reasons Hulu is missing TV III branding

Back on Wednesday, October 8, I posted a blog on Hulu and its need for a brand strategy.

I quoted Paige Albiniak from the journal of Broadcasting & Cable, who said “Perhaps it is better to keep these popular videos off YouTube, thus forcing people to discover Hulu. It’s taking a while, but it won’t be long before Hulu is the first place they check. What’s more, once they get there I am sure they’ll go back because there’s so much content on the site and it’s so well organized.”

I received an email back from Will Prestes in the UK, who is focusing on TV strategy and management of channel and program brands, with special interest in the roles of aggregation, scheduling and promotion of television content.

Will replied:

“I believe it is total nonsense. This sit-and-wait strategy seems to be the complete opposite of what's expected in TV III Branding. Hulu surely needs some more branding, as Albiniak states in the headline of her article, but the user preference of YouTube over Hulu goes way beyond that."

From my point of view I could say that:

1. The whole brand synergy between content and catch up channel is very confusing for the "viewer". SNL airs on NBC, who shows clips at, but who also has the show for catch up on It is a 3-degree brand relationship that the average user is not acquainted with. Mostly because Hulu's brand is not widely known yet.

2. NBC has to do a hell lot of cross-promotion to teach the viewer the path to Hulu. It seems to me that NBC and NewsCorp put all their bets on the program's brand, completely erasing channel brands from Hulu. The viewer who lands on is not welcomed by familiar brands such as NBC or Fox. The user can only rely of familiar show brands, and sometimes, their favourite shows are not even being displayed on the homepage at the moment. So this network brand neutrality looks rather cold for a user who has no affinity with Hulu's brand yet. Next year, BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will release Kangaroo's online VOD service here in Britain. I'm curious to see how they'll deal with multiple network brands in the same service.

3. I've just ran a Google search on and the first result points to The sponsored link on the side points to It speaks for itself. Hulu needs better SEO. And when you can't find it, you just go to YouTube, because it is the most trusted brand. And by the way, YouTube has just passed Yahoo as the second most popular Search Engine. [reference -]

4. Don't even get me started on Hulu's interface. It is definitely not oriented for sharing. On YouTube, you don't need an extra click to copy the video's URL and send to friends. You can read users' comments right below the video. You can get related videos straight away: the Sarah Palin SNL sketch on the News, users' video replies, and so on (I've been even Rick Rolled trying to see the sketch on YouTube). YouTube is just a better media consumption experience, far ahead from Hulu.

5. Hulu has just official content. In YouTube, people serve as filters. The rating of a particular video is in your face. And their opinions and related videos take you down the long tail, giving you an extended experience that Hulu can never give you.

“So Mark, answering your question, I'd dare to say that keeping videos off YouTube and just waiting for people to magically go to Hulu is not the best strategy. Hulu is good for people like you, who know Hulu's brand and had the relationship with NBC and SNL in your head. That is why you went first to Hulu.

“I hope I answered your question, and If not, hopefully I raised more doubts. Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts.”

Will Prestes posts his thoughts on media strategy trends in the digital era at

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