We’ve talked about how Hulu lost its way because its owners don’t care if it wins. Now, a single post from Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has dragged that tension into the open. It’s a soap opera that’s worth watching.
Kilar’s comments – that TV has “too many ads”, that digital TV advertising is twice as effective as traditional TV advertising – could be interpreted as biting the hand that feeds him. But that assumes Hulu’s being fed. It’s not! It’s a service that runs counter to the major networks’ goals of keeping more eyes glued to their LCDs and plasmas. And their responses, according to the Financial Times, reflect that:
One person close to Hulu said the company’s owners were furious with Mr Kilar. “If I were given billions of dollars worth of programming, I too could probably build a business,” the person said. “But I know that in order to build a long-term, viable business I would have to do so in a way that works for everybody.”
Another person close to the situation said Mr Kilar was out of touch with mainstream television viewing. “These are clearly the musings of an elitist who is obviously disconnected from how the majority of America watches television,” said the person.
And you know what? They might be right. Kilar might be out of touch with how the majority of Americans watch television today. But his vision of the future – wherein people get fewer ads, more distribution choices, more power to make or break a series – has already begun to take shape. And the longer content owners (who also happen to be Hulu’s owners) don’t realise that, and adapt accordingly, the more irrelevant they become.