Web TV service Hulu is still inching its way to its first launch outside the USA.
Hulu has been in talks with British TV networks for some time (as we reported back in March). The Daily Telegraph reports today that one of the UK’s largest networks, ITV, is just weeks away from a ‘semi-exclusive’ deal that will see Hulu become the only third party company licensed to show ITV programmes. Deals with Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide are also underway.
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In a separate report, The Telegraph quotes a ‘source’ as saying that once a second content deal is signed, Hulu’s parent companies (NBC, Fox and ABC) will add some of their own content in time for a January 2010 launch. Earlier in the year, a launch around September 2009 was suggested.
Beyond content, the second stumbling block is advertising. The Telegraph suggests that no advertising has been sold for the service yet and that it would need to be in place by November if a January launch was to go ahead.
The news that Hulu is getting closer to moving outside the USA is great for anyone who has ever stumbled upon a Hulu video embedded in a web page and found that they are unable to view it thanks to the content being restricted to the service’s home country.
However, just because a UK version of Hulu is coming, don’t expect those embedded videos to work. Not all content will be necessarily be licensed outside the USA and even if it is, the URL may well be different from the American service, meaning that the embed still won’t work. We’re a long way from unrestricted TV content viewable across the world.
There’s no word of any international Hulu launches beyond the UK yet. TV licensing deals are so complicated that they need to be done on a territory-by-territory basis. It will be a long time before Hulu is truly international.