NEWS CORP. and NBCU have released more details about their upcoming joint venture into the online video business. The new company will be called “Hulu.” CEO Jason Kilar posted a message on the newly-launched Hulu.com, saying that the site will begin a “private beta” phase in October. The site includes artwork from several top shows that are expected to be available for free, ad-supported streaming: 24, The Office, Conan O’Brien, Heroes, The Simpsons, and more.
APPLE has finally brought its downloadable television service to the UK. iTunes UK will offer 28 shows to start, including top shows such as Lost, Desperate Housewives, and South Park. Episodes will cost a premium – about $3.80 (USD). In the US, they sell for $1.99 each.
MICROSOFT and 20TH CENTURY FOX have signed a deal to offer Family Guy via the Xbox Live Video Marketplace. This is Fox’s first offering on the Video Marketplace, and the first time that Family Guy has ever been available as download-to-own. The first two seasons will be available next week, with new seasons added soon. New episodes will be for sale the day after broadcast. Fox is seeing the deal as a first step towards embracing the Marketplace. Executive VP of Video-On-Demand Jamie McCabe said “we will eventually have lots of content on the service.”
NETFLIX is quietly becoming a force in online streaming of digital content. The company began its “Watch Instantly” service in January, allowing Netflix subscribers to stream movies and television shows on their home computers. As of July, it had generated 5 million views. However, in the past six weeks, that number has doubled to 10 million views. Netflix attributes the rapid growth to increased awareness of the service and a growing library of titles.
ORCA INTERACTIVE announced a contract with BLOCKBUSTER to deliver digital content to its subscribers. The Israel-based company specializes in web video services and software. The move indicates that Blockbuster is preparing to move beyond its in-store and DVD-by-Mail rental offerings, and compete in the online digital marketplace. As noted above, Netflix currently offers streaming video for movies and television shows, in addition to its DVD rental business. The two companies have recently been engaged in a head-to-head price war.