After fumbling through the first attempt at integration, Hulu and Facebook have finally come together to bring social connections to online television viewing. Hulu is serious about having users connect their Facebook profiles with their Hulu Plus accounts, offering a free month of Hulu Plus to users to hook up with Facebook Connect.
Hulu users can create a subset of their Facebook friends as "Hulu friends." If you and I both connect Hulu to Facebook, we will each be able to see updates on what the other is watching, both on Facebook and on Hulu. This will not affect the rest of your Facebook friends' news streams if they are not conncted to Hulu. As we have seen with Facebook's partnership with Clicker and rumored deal with music-streaming service Spotify, the platform wants to make entertainment more social. Yet, privacy questions abound.
Hulu and Facebook tried to ramp up Connect integration at the beginning of July but it went horribly wrong. Users would connect Hulu with their Facebook only to find that the profile that showed up was someone else entirely. Hulu shut down Facebook Connect and required all users to login through Hulu.com.
In a blog post, Hulu claimed all responsibility for the malfunction. Even if the problem was not entirely Hulu's fault, any problem with Facebook Connect exposing personal details or logging in to the wrong accounts would be an extraordinary problem for Facebook and shake the confidence the company has built up with the Web.
There are a few interesting bits to Facebook's Hulu integration. Users can leave time-stamped comments in their feed that will generate a clip of what they were watching at that time. Say you are watching Battlestar Galactica - episode 1, season 2 - and want to leave a comment on the 15-minute mark of the show. Hulu will generate a clip from that moment and post it to your wall. Users' ratings, reviews, discussion forum posts and favorite shows can also be published to Facebook.
Yet, you may not always want to show what you are watching. In that case there are several options: do not connect your television watching habits to a social network, toggle privacy preferences in Hulu or do not comment on anything.
The goal for Facebook is to become the spot where users discuss what they are watching and listening to. Hulu's greatest asset is its long tail of content along with its posting shows 24 hours after they appear on television. What Hulu wants with Facebook is the ability to amplify that long tail and make older shows more valuable to the service.
Is a free month of Hulu Plus enough to make you trust the connection between Hulu and Facebook?