Is Hulu The First Step In The Downfall Of Broadcast TV?

Online video streaming sites like Hulu are a convenient way to watch all of your favorite television shows on your time, without even touching your TV remote. But what about the implications of getting your television fix on the web, instead of through your network television and cable providers?

Online video streaming sites like Hulu are a convenient way to watch all of your favorite television shows on your time, without even touching your TV remote. But what about the implications of getting your television fix on the web, instead of through your network television and cable providers?

Janko Roettgers of NewTeeVee recently published an interesting article about how Hulu is destroying the TV industry. In his post, Janko quotes Bruce Eisen, Dish Network VP of Online Content Development and Strategy, as saying, “If I can watch Glee tomorrow morning and I don’t have to pay a TV service – I think that’s bad. If people decide that they don’t have to pay for pay TV, then one of the pillars (of the TV industry) starts crumbling.”

Bruce Eisen’s quote got me to thinking about something that hadn’t really crossed my mind before. If more and more people cut the cord and start watching most of their television programming online then actual television broadcast ratings will go down. If broadcast television ratings continue to fall then networks won’t be able to charge as much for advertising space. If networks aren’t able to charge as much for advertising space then they won’t have enough money to spend on creating interesting, engaging and ground breaking content.

The way I see it there are two solutions to this problem. The first is, as Bruce Eisen suggests in the NewTeeVee post, that the networks not make their content available online so soon after the television broadcast. If the shows were available a month after the broadcast, or even a week or two after, then more people would watch the television premiere of episodes so that they wouldn’t have to wait to see them online. However, this idea is only good in theory, as pirated versions of television episodes will appear online the next day regardless of whether or not the network approves of it.

That’s where the second idea comes in. Networks should put more effort into their own websites, posting previously aired content to their sites immediately after broadcast and making it easy-to-find and easy-to-watch for viewers. Networks should also put a lot of effort into the advertising business on their sites, to make up for the fact that online viewers don’t see the same commercials as viewers watching on television.

A lot of networks have websites where viewers can watch their content, but archives are often lacking and viewers are turning to sites like Hulu instead. Networks need to understand that they need to be giving it their al in the world of online video streaming or the web, and sites like Hulu, will eat them alive. What’s your take on sites like Hulu and their effect on the future of broadcast television?