The oft-rumoured launch of Hulu in Australia looks a tad more certain with the SMH reporting today that Hulu have filed for an Australian trademark on March 29.
Can Hulu work in Australia?
In the US, Hulu has over two hundred content partners and is jointly owned by NBUniversal, Fox Entertainment Group, and The Disney Entertainment Group. While, yes, these companies each own TV channels, they also produce a significant quantity of content and do have a vested interest in ensuring that they maintain their dominance as the key US TV content providers. Hulu may not be an ideal scenario as they don’t 100% control the distribution of their content, but it enables them to take an active role in the online space.
The Australian market is different. Here, the dominant TV bodies are content agregators who produce some of their own material. Most of the profit locally comes from buying foreign content which is considerably cheaper than producing it ourselves. Yes, there is a market for locally produced television, but that’s just not where the bulk of the revenue comes from. Hulu simply creates greater competition for that overseas-produced content. The FTA broadcasters may be able to license some of the content available to them by way of established content deals, but surely that revenue is short term. How long will it be until the foreign distributors cut out the middle man and deal directly with the portal themselves?
The market, however, hungers for a service like Hulu. New TV’s, game consoles, Bluray Players, and media streaming devices (ie Boxee Box, and Apple TV) all now offer widgets and internet capability. Local audiences, tired of sub-par catch-up services, who now have access to Internet-enabled devices are vocal about wanting content on demand services.
Foxtels Kim Williams has already signalled his intent to see the pay TV giant move into cloud content, IPTV services. Undoubtedly services like FetchTV will be close behind them. How long is it then until players like Netflix and Vudu then make their move in to the Australian market?
Hulu can work in an Australian market. Advertisers will simply shift their advertising dollar to these new platforms. Platforms that have the potential to offer targeted advertising to reach desired audience members. Will Hulu work in Australia for traditional broadcasters who are keen to maintain profitability and control over the local market? For them the future is less certain.