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To Hulu or not to Hulu? Is There Even a Question?

Feb 8

I have a lot of conversations about social media. People love to talk about how Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. are changing the world we live in. And it’s true. But I’m always baffled that one social media channel doesn’t get more play. Hulu. Talk about a game changer. Hulu is absolutely re-inventing the way we watch TV. (And as someone who was a TV news Anchor for 15 years, I witnessed those changes first hand.) People don’t make ‘appointments’ to sit down and watch television anymore. First the DVR allowed us to record our favorite shows and watch them when we had time. Now Hulu takes it a step farther. We can not only watch shows on our own timetable, but also rate them, comment on them, interact with others watching them, and – my favorite – decide which commercials we’re going to see during them. Talk about social media. I’ve never felt more connected to television content. (Except, maybe, when I was making it!)

Who didn’t love rating the Superbowl commercials as they aired? By the end of the game, we could see a tally of the favorites. Even if you’re not into interacting with other viewers during your favorite shows, it’s really nice to be able to login and see a list of the most popular shows. That’s how I discovered Glee!

Sure, you can watch your shows on the network websites. But people seem to like having all their favorites in one place. I worked for ABC for years. There are always TVs on in the newsroom, so most of the shows I became attached to were on ABC. And yet, when I need to catch up on Modern Family, do I go to the ABC website? Nope. I watch Hulu.  And I’m not alone. According to  this article, people watch videos of their favorite shows twice as much on Hulu as on all the network websites combined.

The number of U.S. households that pay for TV service from cable, satellite or phone companies dropped last year,  for the first time in decades. And in last year’s fourth quarter, the number of people between ages 18 and 49 watching any kind of TV on a traditional set was down about 1.3% from the previous fall, the biggest decline in at least four years. (Nielsen) We were among them. We haven’t had cable in a year, and we moved our clunky old TV set to the garage. It just wasn’t getting any use.

Now that I’m officially addicted to the site, I have worried that Hulu will start charging. After all, Hulu plus (the paid subscription service) should hit 1million users and $200 million in revenue this year. But Hulu CEO Jason Kilar says the basic service will remain free. (Here’s a great blog post that sums it up what Kiler is saying about Hulu these days.)

If you’re not watching Hulu, it might be time to check it out. Look for my handle – we can discuss which girl the Bachelor should send home next!

Katie is President of Katie Wagner Social Media. Before opening the agency, she spent more than 15 years as a journalist, working for CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN and National Public Radio. Katie works with clients across the country and is a popular public speaker.

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