Saturday, April 4, 2009

YouTube vs Hulu

I wrote last year about how Hulu is the future of entertainment. At that time, Hulu had licensing and financial support from NBC and Fox. They are rumored to shortly secure Disney which includes ABC programming. This along with cable networks like E and SciFi, Hulu has graduated to a verb, as in Hulu-ing.

Naturally Hulu was compared to YouTube, one has quality and legal programming while the later was plagued with copyright infringements. When I saw Hulu on YouTube, I thought, "Ah, good idea. That makes sense." After all, YouTube is still king/queen of destination sites, along with their parent company, Google, so it seemed like a win-win situation (check out graph below). However, it appears YouTube is not satisfied with just showing Hulu, they also want to BE Hulu.

Starting April 16, YouTube will abandon its current navigation scheme -- which funnels users into "videos," "channels," and "community. It will be replaced with a new design offering four tabs: Movies, Music, Shows, and Videos. The idea is to highlight professional movies and TV shows with commercials and sponsors. It's a good idea to copy damn brilliant user interface design and commendable to follow a solid business plan, but it's a mistake to try to be Hulu, and I'll tell you why.

I love YouTube, I do. I think it's totally empowering for random people to upload their rants or whatever else they deem important. Shit, I do it all the time as part of my hopeless endeavor to be a weblebrity, but that's another story. Back to YouTube, I also appreciate how it's evolved to include quality programming with the likes of channels such as sXephil and communitychannel.

sXephil is the brainchild of 23-year-old med school drop out (or did he ever get in), Philip DeFranco. His 3 minute average, whip smart(ass) remarks about society is freakin' insightful beyond his years. His best stuff are blatant (but sarcastic) racist remarks and condemsation of the Catholic church. communitychannel is another example of original programming by ordinary people like you and me. Aussie tart, Natalie Tran, has some crazy-ass "situational" skits where she plays all the characters. Her clips now always includes wise-cracking "your mum" jokes and features viewer comments with porno background music! Plus she has mad editing skills and enough humor to bust any gut.

YouTube should concentrate on cultivating these talents instead of acting like greedy bastards in a hopeless game of catch-up with Hulu for TV and film programming. It seems rather than leading the pact in the evolution of web entertainment, YouTube is experiencing a hard case of identity crisis. This leads to poor business plans and disappointing "upgrades."

As huge fans of both Hulu and YouTube, I wish them both the best during this period of growth and change. Your thoughts?

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