Hulu’s Take on the Future of TV: Everyone Wins (Except Cable)

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Where’s TV headed? Ask Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. His company has insight from “daily interactions with users, advertisers, and content owners,” as he mentions in a recent company blog post.

What Do We Want?

In a nutshell, consumers want fewer ads, the convenience of on-demand programming available from any device, and we’ve demonstrated the ability to save or sink a show faster than ever before thanks to social media.

Advertisers want to be able to target ads more efficiently. And content owners want to paid for the work they create. Both advertisers and content owners want money, basically, which shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anyone.

Hulu’s stance is that since consumers want fewer ads and convenient on-demand programming, the industry should “exploit these new trends and leverage them to build great businesses.”

When Do We Want It?

The challenge for an online video service such as Hulu doesn’t have as much to do with consumers as it does in trying to convince advertisers and content owners to spend more money and put more content online—especially in the face of the standard revenue models afforded by traditional television.

“History has shown that incumbents tend to fight trends that challenge established ways and, in the process, lose focus on what matters most: customers,” says Kilar. “Hulu is not burdened by that legacy,” he adds.

Except that it is.

Hulu is jointly owned by NBC, ABC and Fox—all content owners deeply entrenched in legacies of their own. We find out later on in the blog post that Kilar’s actually referring to the TV distribution business as the part of the equation that’s due for the most upheaval. These are the cable and satellite companies, though we’ll have to overlook that NBC and Comcast are now in cahoots; one’s a content provider, one’s a distributor and the newly-merged company owns a big chunk of Hulu.

Whatever the case, Kilar’s basic premise is that the near-term future of TV will feature greater access to programming available directly from the source and better advertising returns thanks to online video services.

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