Why Hulu is the Future of Everything

It wasn't enough to have a Hulu for television. We needed a Hulu for magazines. And now, a Hulu for music videos. It's called Vevo and it works the same way the other Hulu cousins work. Big time media companies -- Sony, Universal, EMI Music -- join hands to offer a "premium" ad-driven site that lets you create a playlist of high-quality music videos. So it's like Grooveshark, but with music videos, and all licensed music.

The site just launched, and some pages seem a little thin in content, but I think the idea is right on. In fact, I may or may not be streaming "Bad Romance" on the site while writing this right now. (Don't judge me.)

A few months ago, I wondered why Google wasn't making YouTube more like iTunes. In other words, why didn't YouTube make it easier to create playlists from its free high-quality videos? (As it turned out, YouTube does let users make playlists. It's just that most users go to YouTube to snack rather than prepare a 10-course meal of 3 minute vids.) But Vevo, which is powered by YouTube, is essentially just that. It's a good-looking, ad-supported site that makes a stab at soaking revenue from music videos, which are all too easily pirated and strewn across the Web.

We're seeing a trend. The wild west of the Internet threatens to turn paid content like television, magazine articles and music into commodities that we consumers consider inherently free. But they're not free to make. So big name publishers -- the NBCs and News Corps of TV; the Time, Incs and Condes of magazines; the Sonys and Universals of music -- are slowly realizing that the best way to reclaim their product, and their revenue stream, is to build an online hub of similar and searchable content that provides such a superior user experience that consumers are willing to wait through the ads, or even pay a small sum of money for the privilege.

For Hulu (now I mean the actual Hulu) the model seems to be working. TV watchers prefer to sit through short ads for a higher-quality experience. But magazine articles and music are different. For example, you can't watch a hi-def episode of The Office on YouTube. But you can read analysis of the president's job speech pretty much anywhere, and I can listen to "Bad Romance" on a lot of free sites. (And I do. Sigh.) Not all content wants a wall built around it, but I'm happy to see that publishers are getting their hands dirty and starting the build something.