This month, NBC Universal and Fox have released hulu.com, their own television and movie-streaming Web site. The site lets you watch complete episodes of TV shows (both current, like 30 Rock, The Simpsons and House and classic shows like The Bob Newhart Show and Welcome Back Kotter), and full-length Universal and Fox movies (like The Usual Suspects, Ice Age, Master and Commander and The Girl Next Door). Shorter clips are also available for many popular shows and movies. While hulu.com offers full seasons of many classic television shows like Ironside, it only has the newest episodes for current shows (such as the first 8 episodes from The Office season 4).
As pointed out in Patrick Crispen's blog, it is important to note that these shows and movies are not bootlegged. Hulu.com is owned by NBC Universal and Fox, and these companies placed their copyright-protected content on this site in hopes that it would be watched for free online. That's right. There is no charge to watch any of this site's streaming TV shows and movies. How is this possible? Through advertisements. Hulu is running traditional 30-second ads in long-form video, which comes out to only 25% of the ads you get while watching TV in your living room. When it comes to short-form video, Hulu allows a 10 to 15-second video overlay, which viewers could click if they want to interact further with the advertiser. If you watch a full show at hulu.com, expect to see a 30 second commercial before the show starts and then another 30-second commercial at each regularly-scheduled commercial break. In other words, it is one of the closer examples of watching TV on the Web without actually having a TV set plugged into a cable box. Definitely worth checking out.