Will Hulu Dethrone YouTube as Top Online Video Dog?

    August 20, 2008
    Chris Crum

Hulu, the online video site that came out of nowhere no more than 5 months ago, may be poised to dominate the online video sector altogether. YouTube has been the reigning king of this area of the web for years, but it may be getting ready to see the first legitimate threat to that reign.

Within the past week, YouTube began testing ads in videos on the mobile version of its site. Meghan Keane at Wired calls it Google’s Quest for "YouTube’s Holy Grail" or in other words, the quest to monetize YouTube. This could foreshadow a similar move on its regular site, which would counteract the (presumably) biggest reason YouTube is number one to begin with – no ads.

Full TV episodes on Hulu

Hulu may have ads, but it also has full episodes of TV shows, and these shows are on there legally. This means a user doesn’t have to worry about a show being pulled from the site because of copyright issues. This is a big draw for Hulu because while lacking the user-generated content that YouTube provides, it has many of the shows people really want to watch; this is good for those without DVRs.

Embedding clips on Hulu

Just like YouTube, Hulu lets users embed clips, so that’s not really an advantage that belongs to the "king" either. By the way, Hulu also offers free and legal full-length movies, another popular feature you won’t find on YouTube.

Hulu is going to continue to grow. Since the short time it has been around, it has already managed to reach the number 8 slot in online video popularity, beating out both CNN and Turner Sports and Entertainment in the Nielsen Online VideoCensus.

Om Malik points out that Hulu is looking to go International, citing a job listing on the site for an International Business Development person. Hulu’s lack of availability outside of the United States has been the most common complaint with the service, and could quite possibly be the only reason it’s not ranked even higher.

YouTube and other online video providers aren’t the only ones that should be watching Hulu from over their shoulders. Cable and Satellite companies may feel some effects of this site and sites like it as popular programming becomes available on demand on the Internet. Add this to the demise of the analog TV set, and online video looks that much more appealing to the average TV fan.

Online video is still relatively young, and one can expect many changes to come from all of the big providers as the concept progresses. Keep an eye out for developments with Hulu and things YouTube will do to establish that it is still the dominant force in the industry. I see a heated battle in the not-too-distant future for these two entities.