I've been reading about Hulu this morning - the joint venture between Fox and NBC. They've launched in beta, and are allowing their various partners to start distributing content. There are a number of positive reviews around, but TechCrunch zeroes in on the big mistake they are making: they are still trapped in the TV scheduling mentality:
Just when particular videos will be available through Hulu - and how long we can expect them to stay on Hulu - will vary from video to video. However, as a general rule TV shows will be available on Hulu by midnight Hawaii time after they debut on normal television. As another general rule, Hulu will keep distributing TV shows until five weeks of newer episodes have passed, at which point older shows will presumably just disappear from the site.
That expiration thing is just stupid. I have plenty of friends who have gotten into shows well after they have been on the air - and they expect to be able to watch the older stuff to catch up. That might mean DVDs, it might mean iTunes - it could mean Hulu, if the people who made this scheduling decision weren't being dumb.
I caught up on "Buffy" that way, actually - I started watching during season 5, and F/X was broadcasting two episodes of the older shows every morning. I had my ReplayTV catch them, and after a couple of months, I was caught up. Hulu could offer the same thing, but it looks like a failure of imagination.
Does this mean they'll fail? No, but it does mean that they are limiting their potential success.