US Gets One Leg Up On Hulu -- For Now

EchoStar/Sling Media’s video site gets a boost: Its viewers will soon be able to watch Viacom (VIAB) shows like MTV’s “The Hills” via a new deal.

That means — for now, at least — you’ll be able to watch some shows on that you can’t catch on Hulu, the Web video site owned by News Corp. (NWS) and NBC Universal (GE).

MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka spells out the confusing details:

The newest set of directions: You’ll soon be able to see Viacom shows like Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob Square Pants” and MTV’s “The Hills” on, giving the video site something you can’t get on Hulu or Google’s (GOOG) YouTube–but can get on Joost and DailyMotion.

Except that Hulu already shows full episodes of two of Viacom’s premiere shows–”The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”–via a one-off deal with Viacom (VIA). And… Sling redistributes all of Hulu’s content except for those two shows. (Update: Sling is getting those shows, too, Kafka reports.)

Eventually, you’ll probably be able to watch all of these shows anywhere, including your cable company’s on-demand service. Which means the winners will be those with the best distribution and money-making platforms.

The cable companies seem to have the best odds there, with digital set-top boxes in millions of homes, control over their networks, and healthy monthly subscription fees.

But Sling Media thinks it can compete here, too, via a $300 gadget called the SlingCatcher, which lets you watch Web video on your TV.

Hulu, we assume, has some hardware aspirations of its own. But so far, the best Hulu-on-TV system we’ve seen is hooking a laptop up to your tube and watching through a Web browser or media centre software like Boxee.

See Also:
Sling Takes On Apple TV With SlingCatcher Set-Top Box
Boxee Raises $4 Million To Take On Apple TV, Microsoft, Cable
Reminder To Big Media: Pulling Shows Off Hulu Boosts Piracy

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