hulu.cbc.ca

We now have a videoplayer page. I’m sure the usability has been thoroughly tested, but the alignment of various graphical objects is a tad off. The site wisely accepts that black video players are now the norm.

Incidentally, cbc.ca/watch needs to redirect to /video; anyone’s reasonable guess of an URL has to work. (Though I suppose cbc/watch makes people think of John Spence.)

Hobby horse first

Launching a videoplayer in late ’09 with no captioning or description whatsoever is a great way to lose another human-rights complaint. This is a lesson the NFB learned well.

NFB video player with two lines of captioning

Hulu puts insane effort into getting captioning to work. But they put insane effort into everything – even optimizing the thumbnail images you see when you search for a performer inside a show. (Listen to a podcast by Hulu’s CTO.) Development is mostly done in China, by the way.

So: Hulu

We all want Hulu in Canada. You want it, I want it, everybody wants it. Given a legit alternative, people will use it. Of course you can Bittorrent, but Hulu? It’s right there. It’s convenient. So why not?

Hulu is only in the States for two reasons – rights and money.

  • The rights problem is huge. Canada is known to be obstreperous in this regard. It took 20 months to launch the iTunes Music Store here, which Steve, in a Stevenote, attributed to rights (i.e., prima-donna copyright collectives).

  • “Money” here means “advertising.” This thing isn’t supporting itself in the States yet, by all accounts, though Hulu executives won’t admit it.

I think they consortium that owns Hulu is being wisely shy about expansion. They shouldn’t do the Web-startup thing and get too big too fast. They’re already huge, though only in one country. Anyway, the day will come: Hulu will go international. (TiVo did – eventually.) I’ve been checking various foreign domain names, and all the ones you’d expect are already registered. Basic plans are in place. Hulu will break free of the United States.

And CBC should be Hulu’s first broadcaster and investor in Canada.

Why CBC should co-own Hulu

  • Shock the system. Hulu investors in the States couldn’t be more commercial. They’re betting on the future. Those are dice that need to be rolled by a public broadcaster. Who do you want at the forefront of video technology in this country? Jim Shaw? The Aspers? Stursberg and Hubie aren’t exactly heroic, but aren’t they waaay better than the alternative?

  • Turn Privates into supplicants. Everybody’s gonna want in on this. If the Corpse is managing partner, the Privates have to strike deals with Hulu and CBC. A deliciously humbling reversal of the accepted order.

  • Add Canadian DNA. Getting this thing to work in French takes care of half the effort needed to get it working in any other language using Latin script. Part of the deal could be: We handle localization the first time, but we set it up so you can easily localize it a second or nth time. (Bonus: We set it up for different localizations of English and French.)

  • Start with maximum content. Upload every damned show we’ve got the rights to onto this thing, plus the entire CBC Archives. Make indie producers an offer they can’t refuse: If they’re willing to license to iTunes, they should be willing to do the same thing here.

    If Hulu Canada had nothing but CBC “content” on Day 1, it still wouldn’t be a letdown. You’d have a shitload of programming to watch. (Then – again – supplicant Privates slowly add their own shows, making them look like laggards. Suddenly it becomes easier to stream the Privates’ stock U.S. shows in Canada, though, doesn’t it?)

  • Ads. Have CBC handle all the ad sales.

  • And yes, redirect everything to hulu.cbc.ca. Seemingly preposterous.

Remember Sirius? Galaxie? This could be Sirius and Galaxie done right.

What’s the problem?

The problem is CBC never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Minor detail: This would cost tens of millions.

6 comments:

  1. Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 12:38 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Hey, kiddo, lemme just say something here. I wrote this because it was a good experiment in thinking big. Impractically big. Irrationally big. So big the flinchers and rat bastards at the Corpse wouldn’t touch it with a 3.3-metre pole. Of course I knew that going in.

    But so what? The idea is out there. It’s not completely insane. I don’t know how to make it work, but making it work is not the job of the Tea Makers. Offering you immediately-implementable news you can use is something you could ask Mcgrath to do the next time you run into him at the Starbucks. Because that other blog is doing such a good job at thinking big.

  2. Jenny
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 11:48 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I actually found this post because I was trying to watch Being Erica from the US. Seriously.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 10:30 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    There’s so much wrong with this post that it’s hard to know where to start.

    But first let me get to the CBC’s new player:

    Seems to be handrolled, and it works pretty well, although some of the code is not pretty. It works as expected, but like Hulu is geofenced. Unlike Hulu, it is a rather awkward implementation. And no one cares about human-rights complaints BTW.

    There’s a promo on the CBC.ca home page inviting surfers to look at the new player, but this clicks through to the /entertainment page. The old player is in the right rail, no doubt people will be confused by this. What they need to do is click on the big box on the left, which will finally take them to the new player.

    Now about Hulu:

    Hulu is a startup, so it will behave like one.

    It’s not as “huge” as you think it is, it’s actually way way smaller than YouTube.

    Registering domain names is a $9 future-proofing investment and doesn’t mean anything.

    Canadians may want Hulu, but you think they want to watch Being Erica on Hulu? No, they want Hulu for SNL and whatnot.

    Never never never never suggest that CBC should handle ad sales. Keep them as far from that as possible.

    More later, I have to work.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      There’s so much wrong with this post that it’s hard to know where to start.

      There’s so much wrong with your cliché it’s also hard to know where to start.

      And no one cares about human-rights complaints BTW.

      Yes, “no one cares about human-rights complaints.” Funny how Newsworld and CBC Television have 100% captioning as the result of one.

      Hulu is a startup, so it will behave like one.

      Hulu is a startup bankrolled by established broadcasters and studios. CBC is an established broadcaster.

      It’s not as “huge” as you think it is, it’s actually way way smaller than YouTube.

      YouTube and Hulu do two different things, as you know. Vimeo is way smaller than YouTube; there’s a better comparison.

      Registering domain names is a $9 future-proofing investment and doesn’t mean anything.

      It means an investment in future-proofing has taken place.

      Canadians may want Hulu, but you think they want to watch Being Erica on Hulu? No, they want Hulu for SNL and whatnot.

      “Suddenly it becomes easier to stream the Privates’ stock U.S. shows in Canada, though, doesn’t it?”

      Never never never never suggest that CBC should handle ad sales. Keep them as far from that as possible.

      That one was admittedly facetious.

      More later, I have to work.

      In ad sales, I assume?

  4. Posted September 21, 2009 at 2:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    It’ll never happen. The amount of money is irrelevant – they can always sell off/rent out some more real estate. The current CBC is so risk averse that they’d never even consider something with so many unknowns and potential pitfalls, regardless of the potential rewards.

    There’s also the little problem of a Crown corporation investing in a non-Canadian company, which would get everyone’s panties in a bunch. Buying things from foreign corporations is OK, if there’s no Canadian alternative, but investing? Arguments would be made that the money should be used instead to invest in starting up a Canadian Hulu competitor, no matter that it would be poorly implemented and fail instantly.

    • Fake Ouimetjoined April 10, 2009
      Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:21 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      I see what you’re saying, but Sirius is ultimately American, nu?


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