Launches Beta, Announces Licensing Deals

Hulu—the online video distribution venture by NBC and News Corp.—began its beta launch of its online video service, offering viewers a vast selection of streaming, on-demand, premium programming on a free, ad-supported basis.

Hulu also unveiled licensing deals for additional content from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Sony Pictures Television. Hulu called those deals a major milestone “in its mission to bring consumers the most comprehensive selection of premium video content online.”

Content includes full-length current and archived television programming as well as clips and an initial selection of feature films. More than 40 television shows from Sony will be available, and MGM will provide both television shows and feature films.

Hulu will also feature—in addition to content from its owners at NBC and Fox—content from more than 15 cable networks (including Bravo, E! Entertainment, FX, Sci Fi, USA) and what Hulu calls independent, “Web-centric” providers. Hulu also announced partnerships with programmers Reveille, Smithsonian Networks, and World Wrestling Entertainment.

The venture has some big dollars to get rolling; Hulu said it would get a $100 million investment from Providence Equity Partners, a major private equity firm specializing in media, entertainment, communications and information companies. announced its name in August, to a tough round of ridicule from commentators across the media landscape, after a lengthy period of suspense.

“We’re excited to bring a wide selection of popular content to fans, on-demand and free—from full episodes and clips of hit shows like ‘Heroes,’ ‘House,’ ’The Office’ and ’The Simpsons,’ to feature films like ’The Blues Brothers’ and ’sideways,’” said Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu. “The launch with our distribution partners as well as our beta is an important first step in delivering a service that lets people enjoy their favorites, anytime, anywhere.”

“Consumers are clearly interested in easily accessing a broad spectrum of programming,” said Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp. “As a single source of free, on-demand programming from some of the most popular studios and online networks, Hulu helps consumers quickly and easily find and enjoy the premium content they are looking for.”

To sign up for the private beta, viewers can go to