It has now been confirmed that Hulu.com has indeed pulled its videos from TV.com. Until yesterday, you could watch embedded Hulu videos on TV.com, but since last night, these videos have become unavailable. TV.com relaunched its site as a video portal last month and Hulu apparently believed that TV.com, which is owned by CBS, was becoming too much of a competitor to its own service.
Update: Boxee also just announced that it was contacted by Hulu and that it will remove the service’s videos from its lineup on Friday. According to Boxee, the company generated over 100,000 streams for Hulu last week alone. Hulu’s CEO Jason Kilar also just announced the he was pressured by Hulu’s partners to remove their content from Boxee, and given that Hulu is nothing without its content, he apparently reluctantly agreed to this. Interestingly, Kilar’s blog post does not mention TV.com.
Chances are that this move by Hulu took TV.com by surprise. Otherwise, TV.com would surely have replaced the embedded videos with links to the shows on Hulu, or at least taken the embeds offline altogether.
TV.com vs. Hulu
When we first profiled the new TV.com in January, we noted that it puts a lot more emphasis on the social aspects of watching online videos. We also argued that TV.com, if it really planned to challenge Hulu, would need to feature more of its own content. By pulling its videos from the site, Hulu is now pushing TV.com into exactly this direction.
Hulu got an early start and currently features more streaming videos from more shows. TV.com has seen a slight upward trend in the last few months, but Quantcast shows Hulu as quickly pulling away from TV.com in February thanks to its successful Super Bowl ad campaign. TV.com has more monthly visitors than Hulu, but these visitors don’t tend to return to the site as often as Hulu’s users.
According to AdAge, TV.com was getting 10% of the ad revenue from views that originated from TV.com and AdAge speculates that TV.com could now potentially negotiate its own content deals.
TV.com is already differentiating itself from Hulu by offering more social features and by creating a bridge between traditional and online TV viewing. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out in the next few months. For now, Hulu has the upper hand, thanks to having an enthusiastic audience and access to exclusive media content, but just like Hulu was able to quickly build up its own audience, TV.com could easily do the same if it is able to give its users access to more content.