Why Aren’t More Cable Shows on Hulu? Because Old People and Contracts Suck, Apparently

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For those of you who think that Hulu doesn’t offer much in the way of cable programming, you can rest a little easier knowing that it’s not Hulu’s fault. Instead, according to Lauren Zalaznick, NBCUniversal’s chairman of Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media, you can blame old contracts and a lack of foresight on the people that used to run things.

Talking at PaidContent’s 2011 conference, she said,

Hulu’s not the issue. Nobody blocks it. It all goes back to the agreements that the content producers made with the [Multiple System Operators]. Those agreements are long and encumbered with provisions that don’t allow for digital video distributions.

Sadly, no-one at the conference responded with, “Well, if that’s the case, then how is Netflix managing to get so much cable content?” It’s especially odd seeing Zalaznick address this point now, when NBCUniversal no longer has any management say in Hulu thanks to their buyout by Comcast… which just happens to be one of those MSOs whose contracts she seems to be blaming for Hulu not having any cable content in the first place.

Still, we may one day get Top Chef on Hulu, it seems. It’s just a matter of pricing; she added,

One of the most important questions is what do you do with precious content that was once valued in ‘x way’ and is now valued in ‘y way.’ But it’s something we’ve all been working on.

Here’s a suggestion: If you’re not releasing it in “y way,” then it may not have any value until you work out how to make that happen. Until then, Zalaznick did have some helpful words of advice for those wanting to see if Richard, Antonia or Carla (Because, seriously, if it’s Mikey, I’ll be very upset) take the top spot this year: “You can’t watch it on Hulu, but you can DVR it.”

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