Paritosh Joshi: Say Hello to Hulu

23 Aug,2012

By Paritosh Joshi


This fortnight, your humble correspondent is in the US, starting with the beautiful city of San Francisco. However, his responsibilities to are never far from his mind so he will take a pause in his schedule to tell you about a creature of great wonder and delight that enchants the natives here while remaining tantalizingly out of reach for most other parts of the world.


You are reading this on a computer or other electronic device (ok, some Luddite actually printed out a copy on dead trees but it still started off on a device). Said device is connected, ie it has access to the internet (or as the incomparable Dubya once called it, “The Internets”  ( – and as the clip that came up when you clicked on the link demonstrates, your device can deal confidently with voice and video too. Let’s be honest; all that FBing and tweeting you do inevitably has you clicking on video links with fair frequency; so you are scarcely a stranger to internet video.


You are also no stranger to the grim truth that almost all the content on all the C&S channels that you get on your Dish, T-Sky, Hathway or whatever, is being routinely pirated and can be watched, off schedule or VOD if you will, online.


There’s a simple rule related with criminal behaviour. Do what the crook does, but do it better than the crook does and people will even pay a small premium to get it the legit way. Al Capone could only run speakeasies until booze was illicit. The Netherlands (where Cannabis use is broadly legal) ranks 9th in its usage. Even Canada is ahead. Simple point. Do the same thing and do it above board and compliance generally should go up. (Who remembers India’s Income Tax regime in the 70s with near 100% marginal tax rates and the highest incidence of tax evasion probably on the planet?)


Which is what Hulu is to online television content.


You can get a full fix of what it is by checking out the Wikipedia entry but the basic idea is simple. Top American networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, Nickelodeon and several others have pooled their content into an advertising supported, high quality streaming service that simultaneously does justice to the consumer’s expectation of quality and the content owners’ expectation of fair compensation for intellectual property.


What is most delightful about even the free tier of Hulu is the thoughtful Permission Marketing that it practices from the very landing page. A lot of content can be viewed by a simple registration and you also have the option of trying Hulu Plus for free. It wouldn’t foist it on you. Your call. This sensibility is visible at every stage. You choose a show to view, (I chose Jimmy Fallon learning the ‘Booty Tooch’ from Tyra Banks, don’t ask why) and even before clicking through, the mouse-over gives you a quick summary to help you decide if you want to go on. Next, you get advertising before the show starts. And it asks you if you find the advertising relevant. So the next time you are on Hulu again, the intelligent ad server engine will make better choices about advertising that actually make sense to you. Once you choose, the site will thank you for making the choice too! Inevitably these days, Hulu is keen to use your socmed (yes that is now a legit word) networks too. It asks you if you would like to post the video you just viewed to FB and Hulu giving you the option even here to opt out.


I could go on but the short point is this. With bandwidth growing and streaming quality steadily improving as a result, we may well be at the point where an Indian ‘Hulu’ may be an idea whose time has come. Drive out piracy. Secure quality content for widest consumption. Get the advertising targeted to people who actually want it. What is not to like, eh?


And in case you were wondering about Tyra…


Paritosh Joshi was until recently CEO, Star CJ. He has been a marketer, a mediaperson and on the Board/committees of various industry bodies. He can reached via his Twitter handle @paritoshZero


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