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Hulu to air some NBC premieres online before they hit TV

Move could help online video site surpass rival YouTube in attracting advertisers

By Heather Havenstein
September 2, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - YouTube Inc. rival Hulu LLC today announced a fall lineup that includes the debuts of several network TV shows before they air on television.

The move is just the latest from Hulu, a joint project of NBC Universal and News Corp. that may propel it beyond rival YouTube in terms of revenue, according to some observers.

Hulu, which launched in March, said it will offer viewers the season debuts of network television shows Knight Rider, Lipstick Jungle, Chuck, Life and 30 Rock a week before they are broadcast on television.

Don Reisinger, a blogger at TechCrunch, said that the move indicates that the television networks are turning to a new business model.

"For years, TV studios were loath to even put television shows on the Web. Most wanted to maintain the same business model they had clung to for years," he noted. "But now, they've realized there is money to be made online. Studios are embracing the Web like never before."

Yesterday -- before Hulu made this latest announcement -- Reisinger noted Monday that the online video site has the potential to solidify itself with big profits, perhaps at the expense of YouTube.

"If YouTube has shown us anything, it proves that there is a huge market for user-generated content," he noted. "But from a business standpoint, professional content is the place where advertisers want to spend money, and [is] how video sites will solidify their financial position. Although Hulu will probably never grow to the size of YouTube and Google, Hulu's advantage is its ability to draw advertisers to the content that more effectively attracts their target audience."

Companies, he added, want to place ads on videos most likely watched by its target audience. YouTube has struggled to lure advertisers to user-generated video, while Hulu has capitalized by making its service appeal to most advertisers, according to Reisinger.

"All Google needs to do to ward off the Hulu threat is to make a little bit more of its video inventory appealing to advertisers," he noted. "Not much, maybe 10%. But if Google doesn't lure more professional content as quickly as possible and do its best to monetize user-generated content, Hulu will gain ground financially and could solidify itself as a big money maker in the industry. Perhaps even bigger than YouTube."

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