In A Switch, Hulu Will Stream Remaining Presidential Debates Live; Premiere A Film |

Hulu is premiering a film: documentary Crawford, about the effects of the George W. Bush presidency on his adopted hometown.

Hard to tell how much of a strategic evolution this is, although clearly Hulu and its partners are ambitious.

As a Canadian, I'm a bit late to the Hulu game. Nevermind that when I arrived at the game, I had to sneak in under the fence because Canadians (well all non-Americans) aren't welcome at the Hulu game.

After installing a workaround that makes Hulu think I'm a red-blooded American, I'm quickly becoming a regular Hulu user.

Last night, while lying in bed getting caught up with Fringe, a new series that I'm slowly getting interested in, I realized that Hulu is clearly on the right track with their service.

At first, I was kind of down on Hulu - after all, streaming kind of sucks, and I don't get to keep a copy of what I'm watching. I have an innate hostility towards Big Hollywood that stems from their irrational fear of their users. The iTunes store is a way better model - I get to *download* stuff and keep it!

But somewhere between the second and third commercial break last night I realized that Hulu really is where Big Hollywood should be going. The iTunes Store is a bit of a dead end for them. Not because its owned by Apple, but rather, because it is rooted in an old way of thinking.

If you look behind the scenes of both services, stripping away some of the shiny veneer, you quickly realize that there are only two material differences between these two services a) who pays for the content and b) where the bits are stored.

Apple requires me to pay for the content and I get to store the bits on my harddrive. Hulu gets advertisers to pay for the content and they get to store the bits on their harddrive.

Now I'm a big believer in innovation continuity - i.e. those services that provide innovation along a vector that is most consistent with existing user behavior are best positioned for success. In other words, if you want to win, don't ask users to do something that they aren't already doing.

The iTunes store fails in this regard. Users don't pay for individually wrapped television programming today, and they don't care where bits that they haven't created are stored (really, they don't. Anyone that tells you otherwise is making stuff up. Go ask your Dad if you don't believe me, unless your Dad is Doc Searls, then you can ask my Dad as a proxy) - so long as those bits are readily accessible.

Hulu, on the other hand, nails this perfectly. Users get to browse a deep selection of content interactively, select what they want to watch and within seconds, their chosen content is on the screen in front of them. It is one of the best examples of "on demand" media delivery that I have seen yet - sure it just rips off Youtube and the gang, but so what. There is a difference between user generated content and the stuff that professionals do. I'm looking forward to the day when those lines have been further blurred and we're well on the way.

But, in the meantime, I'm selfishly looking for a better way to digest my TV and Hulu currently provides me with the best experience, bar none. Long live the cloud!