[12 March 2008]
By George, I think they’ve got it.
In fact, take “I think” out. They’ve got it: The most important development, maybe, in the whole history of Web TV launched early Wednesday morning, and for once, the hype is justified. Hulu is amazing. Simple. Elegant. Dynamic. And vast.
Hundreds of shows, movies, clips - thousands of hours. Enough to fill, or waste, a whole lifetime. I am blown away by Hulu.
Now, please keep in mind - this is a first impression, and I’ll check back later in the day when the servers are being overloaded by millions of viewers; that’s where the rubber meets the road for sites like this. But I’ve gotta imagine NBC and Fox have anticipated this, too.
What is “Hulu?” The omnibus site created by Fox and NBC, featuring (most) of their shows plus many classics, and a vast amount of other stuff as well. Like the ABC and CBS sites, you’ll get current episodes, and the full season as well. But, alas, Hulu makes their (nice) episode sites feel clunky and a little moldy.
Yes, there’s advertising here, but in a funny way, you’ll almost welcome it. “So this is the price to pay ...?” Big deal. Worth it. An example: I picked, for no particular reason, the pilot episode of the classic “Firefly.” You get a choice - either the full trailer for “Leatherhead,” or “regular commercial interruptions” (which, like at, say, ABC, involves a 30-second spot at the outset.) If you pick “Leatherhead,” then no other commercials.
Again, an insignificant price to pay.
Hulu gives the illusion of totality, but it is an illusion. I don’t (for example) believe I saw any episodes of “American Idol,” though “1 vs. 100” is here. What’s the logic for inclusion on Hulu? I’m not sure it’s evident, and I’m not sure I care either. “Idol” isn’t going to be here, of course, because Fox already has a lucrative deal with iTunes. So what. We can live with that. And besides, YouTube and Idolstalker already have this show covered thoroughly.
A quick note on screen quality: It’s generally adequate. The actual video screen will fill about a quarter of your’s, and it’s surrounded by clutter of various sorts, some of it distracting. Naturally, you’ll then click on “full screen.” Under normal circumstances, “full screen” can be a ticket to online hell, with either horrific quality or a frozen hard drive. Not here: Full screen resolution is pretty good, and I had no technical problems to speak of.
As mentioned, I’ll check back later, but you should check it out now. Hulu is amazing. I promise.