More than two months after the online video service Hulu first announced a relationship with ABC-TV and said it would begin featuring content from the network, it has made its first shows available.
Six shows from season five of Grey's Anatomy have been added on Hulu.com and another 35 Web sites that offer the service. Two shows are from the season opener, two from the middle of the season, and the two shows leading up to the finale.
Other ABC shows such as Lost and Desperate Housewives will be added to the lineup over the next two weeks, according to Hulu.com Editor Rebecca Harper, who announced the news in a blog post Monday.
Hulu.com is also using social-network services Twitter and Facebook to provide users with clues to what shows are coming this summer.
Hulu, a joint venture between News Corp. and NBC Universal, first announced the relationship with ABC in late April when it said Disney would acquire a stake in the company. Disney took a 30 percent stake and some seats on the board of directors, and Hulu received the right to feature shows from ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company. A representative from Providence Equity Partners, which backed Hulu with $100 million in funding, also has a seat on the board.
Along with offering content from NBC, Fox and Disney, Hulu also features programming from Comedy Central, Lionsgate, MTV Networks, National Geographic, Paramount, PBS, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Bros. Television Group.
One major entertainment network missing from the Hulu service is CBS and a network CBS partially owns, CW. CBS has teamed up with Hulu rival TV.com.
Changes To Come
While some executives gear up to provide the lineup of ABC content, others at Hulu may be working on rolling out a fee for the service, which has been offered free since its public launch on March 12, 2008.
Currently, Hulu generates revenue from advertising sales. Ad revenue comes from ad impressions, video streams from its distribution partners' Web sites, and from the embeddable Hulu video player.
News Corp. Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller has said paying for some of the content on Hulu is logical. His opinion has drummed up debate from users who say Hulu will never make the change to a fee-based model because people won't be willing to pay for content they can get from other sources.
But some analysts think people will be willing to pay for a service that they find valuable.