Hulu and the Future of TV

Via TechCrunch I scored an invite to the closed beta of Hulu, NBC‘s new online video service. I’d heard a lot about it over the past few weeks and even sampled a bit at OPENhulu but I wanted to check out the real thing.

After spending a few minutes testing it, everything seems to work as advertised on both my flaky Windows Vista box and Macbook. I can sample clips from SNL and 30 Rock I missed and they even let me embed videos here. The pre and post roll ads are seamless and not very disruptive, a good trade for the free content (some shows have no ads, like the example below). This is close to what the future of TV will be like; random access and watch on demand. I just think it will not be streaming but downloaded and consumed on mobile devices. The monetization will be via advertising and merchandise sales.

So I think Hulu is pretty good for sampling shows but not so nice for watching full episodes. That’s because I want to watch TV, well, on my TV and not my computer. But my kids will love this stuff as they see little difference between a laptop and a television.

Here’s one of my favorites from their collection (good thing I bought this on Amazon Unbox and it’s on my TiVo):