Maybe not on purpose. Maybe it will be accidentally on purpose. But one way or another, the cabletards will find a way to kill Hulu in its crib. Yes, they say they’re not going to change anything. They say they’re all about embracing digital media and the Web and new business models. Even if they meant it, which they don’t, they couldn’t do it. They are genetically incapable. They’re cable guys.
Bottom line: Once again, the gods have smiled upon us, and we are blessed by the bad fortune and shortsightedness of our enemies.
As for Hulu, it’s a great site, and to be sure, Comcast has to share ownership with News Corp. and the private equity guys. But that’s enough for Comcast to fuck the whole thing up. Imagine what happens in those meetings now. Imagine the foot-dragging, the obstructionism, the arguments about making sure Hulu only “complements” but doesn’t “interfere with” Comcast’s other Web initiatives, like TV Everywhere, which will let you watch cable shows on the Web after you’ve completed a very simple (ahem) authentication process that verifies you’ve already paid the cable company for a subscription to them. Or, as we call it, “Operation Digital Clusterfuck.” Now imagine the arguments over every little thing Hulu wants to do and whether it “complements” or “interferes with” TV Everywhere. And that’s just one issue.
Of course this is all great news for us. When we first saw Hulu we were almost kind of worried, because at first glance it appeared that the content guys maybe didn’t need us. For once, it seemed they had figured out a way to do digital distribution all by themselves. I mean, Hulu looks great. It’s a really nice site.
Ah, but GE doesn’t care about that. GE cares about lightbulbs and jet engines money. All they know is that network TV used to gush profits and now the good old days are over and it’s time to move on. Sure, someone will make money in media as it moves to digital, but hey, that sounds like work. Better let someone else handle that, and once they have, maybe GE comes back in and buys that and milks it dry. Plus, the ghost of Jack Welch still walks the halls, and here’s what the stock has done since Immelt became CEO:
So the guy has to save his own ass. Fair enough. That means NBC gets thrown to the lions, and two dying business models — a broadcast TV network and a big dumb cable operator — have found a way to sink faster, by tying themselves together.
All that hard work on Hulu? Hey, call it a learning experience. The bright young kids running the site get frustrated as things slow down, and they drift off to other places and try again. Meanwhile the cable guys keep doing their best to make digital media consumption as painful and awful as they possibly can. Because, hey, that strategy always works so well.
Meanwhile, here we are. We’re running the best and biggest online store. We’ve sold bazillions of miniature TVs, called iPhone and iPod Touch. We’re flush with cash, and we’ve got the best designers and the best engineers in the world. We’re pretty much the only company that can make this all work at a large scale.
Microsoft doesn’t have the chops, and anyway, they’re not paying attention. They’re foaming at the mouth over Google. And frankly, despite what they say about embracing the Web, the reality is, when it comes to all things Internet, the Borg still in “fight the tide” mode. Look at their euphoria over Windows 7 — that tells you all you need to know about how they view the world. They are the tech equivalent of the cable guys, still believing that they can protect their castles if they just keep digging bigger moats.
So yeah. I like the GE-Comcast deal. I like it a lot.