But why bother creating a whole new distribution arm when YouTube and MySpace are already drawing millions of viewers? One reason is to get rid of the middleman youdon’t own (e.g., YouTube) in favor of one you do. Hulu’s founders also believe that they can be a more reliable source than the sites offering amateur videos and bootlegs. These assumptions are worth testing, for all of Hollywood’s sake. Unfortunately for Hulu, though, it doesn’t have a comprehensive library of content, and what it has will stay on the site for only a few weeks. Its distribution partners include few of the leading sites for online video and none of the file-sharing networks that have become major outlets for movie and TV bootlegs.
Most important, Hulu isn’t giving users the power they enjoy on YouTube and MySpace, which may be the most important factor in such sites’ success. Users not only supply videos for those sites, they curate them and provide the running commentary that glues the community together. Much like the television companies that feed it, Hulu seems to want complete control over the programming lineup. But the Net isn’t television. Content may be king, but the mob rules.