Friday, February 22, 2008

CBS and NBC to offer more TV shows online

It is becoming abundantly clear that the broadcasters are throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. NBC has Hulu and CBS has been working with Joost, but they still feel the need to complicate the web by putting the same content on multiple sites. Now classic shows can be seen on multiple websites and one must wonder what the strategy is behind this move. Does it make access to shows easier to find, does it increase visibility of the content, does it improve revenue models, does it grow usage?

Perhaps the confusion is that the questions that should be asked are: How is the potential viewer likely to find these shows? Do they haphazardly "turn the channel" to hulu or and as they thumb through the categories and lists, find something that appeals to them. Do they see a promotion on NBC TV or that pushes them to another site? Do they have an interest in a particular show and use a search engine - Google, Blinx,, etc to find the link to the show? Do they watch an online clip on You Tube that pushes them to watch the entire episode someplace else?

I think that full length episodes should be associated with the network's website. Search engines inside that site should easily and quickly guide them to the show; and they should be also embedded inside a relevent website that people might expect to find such programming. Star Trek for example, makes sense to be inside the Sci Fi site, which is part of total search.

But to me, Hulu duplicates what should be doing on its own. Rather they should devote this kind of site as promotion with links to full episodes. Yes, these sites aggregate content across multiple networks, but they do little to enhance the brand value of the content back to its linear TV counterpart. It lacks the synergy to enhance the experience. So in the above example, the value of streaming Star Trek, should also remind the user that similar great sci fi programming is on the Sci Fi Channel. Hulu does not do that; connecting a show through its particular TV network does.

Now I must say that I think Hulu's platform is very slick and I enjoy the user experience; my point is that as a website, it stands alone and does little to engage the user to the core brand or to create a positive transference between the show and other similar shows on the channel. And while the argument may be made that it was developed as a destination site and to compete with You Tube, it does not explain why could not have done the exact same thing.