Hulu LogoOne of our favorite sites, Hulu.com, is throwing off the beta-version warm-up and going live March 12. Hulu.com is a joint venture between Universal, NBC and Fox, offering their combined catalog of TV shows and clips free on the web, driven by short commercials, normally in the 10-second range. Hulu.com also delivers content from MGM and Sony, and company representatives have indicated that they’ve reached agreements with Warner Brothers and Lionsgate to include selected content from their libraries.

TigerDirect News has also learned that Hulu.com will deliver sports highlights from the NBA, the NHL along with full-length NCAA men’s basketball games spanning the last 25 years. Currently, you can check out full episodes of The Simpsons, 24, The Office, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, House, King of The Hill, Bones, Prison Break, Super Bowl Ads and more.

It’s a bold stroke—moving television shows and specials to the web, and with scripted TV production scaled back, Hulu.com keeps the faith by preserving the best material from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. And it may just work. Hulu’s videos also appear on AOL, MSN, Comcast, MySpace and Yahoo. Over 5,000 Web sites have embedded clips from Hulu, including right here on our news site. Hulu has got the programming, they’ve developed a model—it will be interesting to see how they progress.

While Hulu.com will go live with a full vault of current-running and legacy TV shows and movies, they have yet to get ABC or CBS on board. Jason Kilar, Hulu’s chief executive, said that he was still having regular conversations with executives at the two networks. But even without them, he said, the company has quadrupled the number of show titles in its library since testing began.

“We won’t stop until we have everything in terms of premium content. That is our mission,” he said. “I just think back to the fact that 24 months ago, there wasn’t anything online legally in terms of full TV episodes or films. In just 17 weeks, we have gone from nothing to over 200 premium titles.”

We first heard of Hulu.com almost a year ago, their much-ballyhooed debut promised a new way to deliver premium content. And they have been in beta since, developing programming and refining the mix. Hulu has created an easy to use site with high-quality video and professional content attractive to advertisers. And advertisers will notice. Hulu execs said that more than five million viewers have watched Hulu videos in the last 30 days, and that 80 percent of the shows on the site are viewed at least once a week.

And here’s something different: Hulu is experimenting with giving viewers a choice in advertising. During certain shows, viewers will be able to choose which commercial they want to watch — would you like to see a short commercial for Nissan’s Rogue S.U.V., Maxima sedan or how about the Z sports car? Hulu continues to let viewers “have it their way,” some viewers will also be given the opportunity to watch a two-minute film preview before a TV show, and then skip all the other advertising breaks.

One challenge Hulu faces is building a predictable and stable library of content. To protect DVD and Web download sales, media companies often make TV shows and films available free on the Web for certain periods of time and then remove them. For example, there are 11 episodes of the TV show “24” on Hulu — beginning with episode 18 of the first season.

Source:
The New York Times: Testing Over, Hulu.com to Open Its TV and Film Offerings This Week