By Jared Newman | Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 8:58 am
Hulu and Viacom are best pals once again, with The Daily Show and The Colbert Report returning to Hulu as free streaming videos, available the day after they air on TV.
Hulu also announced that Viacom will bring a bunch of other shows to Hulu Plus, the site’s $8 per month subscription service, including Comedy Central’s Tosh.0 and MTV’s Jersey Shore. (The above headline is a quote from Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar’s blog post.) In total, Hulu will add more than 2,000 episodes of Viacom content including Chappelle’s Show, The Hills and Reno 911.
Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s satirical news programs were among the most popular shows on Hulu before Viacom pulled them from the site in March 2010, apparently over rights disagreements.
But in addition to the news about Viacom, Kilar used his blog post to publish a manifesto of sorts on the future of digital content, touching on rumors that the site may change direction and become more like an online cable operator.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that News Corp and Disney, who each own a controlling stake in Hulu, want to scale back the amount of free content on the site. Hulu, the report said, might fashion itself after cable providers with bundled content and live programming.
Kilar didn’t deny the rumors — he envisions content bundles as the future of pay TV online and even spoke of authentication for traditional pay TV subscribers — but he also said the free version of Hulu isn’t going anywhere. “We expect the free Hulu service to be a core part of our business for years to come, and one that will continue to earn enthusiasm from our users,” Kilar wrote.
The return of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report help prove his point. If all content providers were sour on the idea of ad-supported, online streaming, Viacom wouldn’t be back in business with Hulu. And if News Corp. and Disney want to scale back their free programming, that could be alright if enough other networks fill the void.
Overall, it’s a good day for Hulu, and I’m glad to see two of my favorite shows back on the site. The free service is a big part of my ability to break away from cable, and it sounds like the same is true for Hulu.