Hulu, the Web TV joint venture between NBC Universal (GE) and News Corp (NWS), this week pulled its videos off CBS’s TV.com.
It’s the first bit of powder to fly in what promises to be a feisty battle between the two Web TV destination sites.
Like all good rivalries, this one started with a starry-eyed alliance.
TV.com was a Hulu launch partner in 2007. The partnership held firm even after CBS bought TV.com’s parent company CNET for $1.8 billion in 2008.
But then, this winter, CBS re-launched TV.com as a Hulu clone. Previously, TV.com had been a community site for TV watchers, not a place to watch TV on the Web.
A CBS spokesperson told PaidContent that Hulu didn’t give a reason for pulling its content.
We think it’s simple: The sites are direct competitors now and Hulu has little incentive to share content with a rival, especially since CBS doesn’t licence its TV programming to Hulu. It would put Hulu at a disadvantage if TV.com were the only place Web viewers could find CBS, Fox and NBC content.
AdAge’s Michael Learmonth on how the competition stacks up at the moment:
- With 232 million total video streams in January, Hulu is the third-most popular video site after YouTube (5.8 billion) and Yahoo (277 million). TV.com ranks 33.
- But TV.com has more unique visitors, according to Compete. In fact, turning the site into a Hulu clone halted a long decline in traffic:
- Hulu’s main advantage over TV.com is its exclusive access to NBC and FOX content. But that deal expires sometime in the next year or so. Hulu got a huge bump in September and November being the main place to find Tina Fey’s SNL Sarah Palin impersonations on the Web.