Hulu makes public debut, adds Warner Bros shows

Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:43am EDT
 
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By Kenneth Li

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hulu, the online video joint venture of News Corp and General Electric's NBC Universal, will make its public debut on Wednesday with programming from Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Television Group, Lionsgate and from sports leagues.

Missing from the list of providers are media mogul Sumner Redstone-controlled companies Viacom Inc, which continues to hold discussions, Viacom said recently, and CBS Corp, which has said it was not averse to a licensing deal.

At launch, Hulu will offer full-length episodes of more than 250 TV series from current hits such as "The Simpsons" as well as older shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." It also will offer 100 movies including "The Big Lebowski" and "Mulholland Drive."

Hulu said it has signed licensing deals with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.

Hulu's launch is a big bet by big media companies that consumers are as eager to spend long periods of time watching TV shows and movies in front of their computers as they are in front of their televisions.

Ahead of its test launch four months ago, the service, dubbed by the press as a rival to Google Inc's YouTube video sharing site, was skewered by the press and influential technology blogs for attempting to compete with the Web's most popular video destination.

Hulu has won over some of its harshest critics including technology blog, Techcrunch, which has since praised the venture for focus on professional content, clean, easy-to-use design, and video quality. Its readers voted it as the best video start-up of 2007.

With no marketing and a private test pool of users, Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar said they have attracted over five million viewers in the past month with its breadth of legally available contemporary shows and clean design.   Continued...

 
<p>Screengrab of www.hulu.com. Hulu, the online video joint venture of News Corp and General Electric's NBC Universal, will make its public debut on Wednesday with programming from Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros Television Group, Lionsgate and from sports leagues. REUTERS/ Screengrab/www.hulu.com</p>