“Hulu.com”: the next YouTube, or Edsel?

August 31, 2007
It’s anyone’s guess if the upcoming joint venture by NBC Universal and News Corp. will really become the world’s largest Web distribution network, as its backers hope. But now the site has a name—Hulu.com.

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar pointed out in a letter to fans that the name “rhymes with itself.”

More importantly, it’s inherently fun, he wrote.

“Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premier content when, where and how you want it,” he wrote.

In a move related to the function of the site, the outfit invited Web users to sign up for the network’s beta launch, scheduled for October

Hulu could become a formidable competitor in Web video distribution. The owners plan the site as the sole Web distribution point for their programming, and they can leverage the power of their initial partners—AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo!—which together reach 96 percent of Internet users, according to NBC Universal.

But some critics had a hard time with the name. At CNNMoney.com, the name conjured the image of Mr. Sulu of the Starship Enterprise. And in Swahili, hulu means "cease" and "desist", among other things, said TechCrunch.

“The problem is that the fuss over the stupid name casts a pall on what is really a smart move by NBC and Fox, namely creating a single portal for video instead of asking people to come to each branded site,” wrote Senior Vice President Terry Heaton of AR&D Television Branding, on his blog.

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