Are You Ready for YaHulu?
Remember Yahoo? You know, that search/entertainment/news portal Microsoft was so hot to buy, what -- 10 years ago was it? Yeah, them. They're back in the news again. No, it's not another massive companywide reorg. The Yahoos are apparently in the market for video streaming sites (again), and they have their eyes on Hulu.
According to anonymous sources "with knowledge of the matter," Yahoo just made an unsolicited offer to buy Hulu, per the Los Angeles Times.
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: The on-demand video business doesn't look so hot right now, as Cringely reports in "Stream a YouTube video, go directly to jail." | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter and followCringely on Twitter. ]
Or maybe not. If you believe TechCrunch's Michael Arrington (and who, with the possible exception of his mother, would?) the Yahoo's-buying-Hulu story is "BS." Arrrington claims to have heard from his own imaginary friends at Yahoo that this story is "completely untrue." (In the same post, he also says, "for all I know it's completely true." Thanks for clarifying that for us, Mikey.)
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal says it doesn't know who's buying Hulu, but the video site with 27 million subscribers is definitely for sale. Want to know what else the Journal has to say about the matter? Sorry, you'll have to pay for a subscription. But please don't. (I have a rule: Friends don't let friends give money to Murdoch.)
Hulu Going Downhill?
My money's on Yahoo. Because lately Hulu has really begun to suck. And if there's any Silicon Valley company that knows how to sniff out companies that have begun to suck and hold a pillow over their faces until they pass from this earth, it's Yahoo.
I admit that at first I was deeply skeptical about Hulu when it debuted in October 2007, then pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Also, those Super Bowl commercials with Alec Baldwin? Priceless.
Since then, though, it's really gone downhill. It began when networks started bailing on the service and taking their shows with them. Hulu only managed to pull "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" back into the fold by forking out big bucks for them.
Even then, you can only view recent episodes of shows for a limited amount of time. Want to watch Joss Whedon's epic sci-fi series "Firefly"? You can get a measly five episodes at a time on Hulu.com. The entire 14-episode series is available on Netflix's $8-a-month Watch Now.
When Hulu rolled out its $8-a-month Plus subscription service, it actually got worse. I watch Hulu Plus on a Roku TV set-top box. For some unknown reason, shows that are available on the Web for free are unavailable via the paid subscription on my Roku box. Can someone explain that one to me, please?
The Roku interface is slow and annoying, its search functions are anemic, and the shows Hulu Plus is clearly being paid to promote are the dregs of the dregs -- if I see one more promo for Hulu's E! style "The Morning After," I may puke. It's also recently doubled the number of commercials you're forced to watch, which of course you can't fast-forward through. (Again, shows on Netflix? No commercials.) Have I left anything out?
No wonder Yahoo wants it.
Remember Broadcast.com? In 1999, Yahoo bought it for nearly $6 billion from founder Mark Cuban, enabling him to, among other things, buy current NBA champions the Dallas Mavericks. Now we'll never be rid of the man.
Where is Broadcast.com today? Don't bother looking for it -- it's been subsumed into Yahoo.com. That was $6 billion well spent.
Remember Yahoo Live? Neither does anyone else. That real-time video streaming service launched in February 2008 and was Yahoo Dead by the following November.
The number of companies and services acquired and expired by Yahoo could fill an entire blog post. So why not add Hulu to the list? It's about time for it to take a dirt nap.
Do you still Yahoo? If so, why? Post your thoughts below.
This article was originally published at InfoWorld.com.