Why Doesn’t Hulu Want Me Watching Their Content Internationally?

All you online video viewers in the United States don't know how good you've got it - you've got YouTube, Netflix, Ustream, Blip, Vimeo and more and on top of it you've got the Holy Grail of television series re-runs - Hulu. What you may not know is that you are the only ones. Outside of the United States we are Hulu deprived.

All you online video viewers in the United States don’t know how good you’ve got it – you’ve got YouTube, Netflix, Ustream, Blip, Vimeo and more and on top of it you’ve got the Holy Grail of television series re-runs – Hulu. What you may not know is that you are the only ones. Outside of the United States we are Hulu deprived. Why? Read on to find out.

When I try to watch Hulu content I get a message that says, “We’re sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed within the United States.” I live in Israel. The Hulu Support page on the site’s International policies states, “Hulu is a U.S.-only service at this time. Unfortunately, we don’t have international streaming rights for our content. Our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide as quickly as possible. This requires working with the content owners to clear the rights for each show or film in each specific region. It’s a long-term project. We don’t have a definite timeline, but we’ll continue to work to make it happen.”

I reached out to Hulu to find out more information but they told me, “We do not comment on this beyond what is available on our website.”

Now, I don’t want to suggest that Hulu should let us watch content that they don’t have the rights to stream outside of the United States – television shows like Family Guy, Glee, House and The Office – although I do hope that this content will become available internationally at some point (preferably soon). That being said, I wonder why Hulu doesn’t let us watch content that doesn’t belong to the big studios and distributers in the United States.

Take Hulu’s new selection of TEDTalks, for instance. The site recently partnered with TED to make the most popular TEDTalks available to Hulu users. I was writing a post about the new partnership and wanted to provide a list of some of the most inspiring talks, but I couldn’t watch them on Hulu. I had to watch them elsewhere before embedding the Hulu versions into my post. Internationals are able to watch TEDTalks in a variety of places online, including on the TED website and on YouTube.

In addition to the TED content, Hulu recently launched some of their own original content. The original shows include an animated web series called Trailer Trash, a daily pop culture “snack” called The Morning After, and a new Kiefer Sutherland series to launch exclusively on Hulu later this month. I am not able to watch any of this content either, although I am assuming that because this is original Hulu content they would own the rights to broadcast it wherever they’d like. So why doesn’t Hulu want me watching this content? Perhaps it’s just too complicated to stream just a fraction of their content internationally?

But wait! Hulu does stream some content internationally – Advertisements! Social Times editor Neil Vidyarthi (who lives in Canada) and I realized this during the Super Bowl when we posted on Hulu’s Super Bowl Commercial coverage. There is one thing that we are able to watch on Hulu and that is the ads in Hulu’s AdZone. Curiouser and curiouser, right?

All I can say is that I hope when Hulu says, “Our intention is to make Hulu’s growing content lineup available worldwide as quickly as possible” that it really will happen quickly. I’ve got better things to do when I visit the States than to catch up on all my television shows on Hulu.

Why do you think it is that in addition to content that Hulu doesn’t own international streaming rights to they also block their own original series and TEDTalks? And why do you think they let us watch ads internationally?