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Is Hulu a Model For Global Diplomacy?

May 11, 2009, 10:16 AM

It’s not exactly the U.N. Security Council, but by every measure, it could be more cutthroat. If Hulu can bring together the mouse, the peacock, and Rupert Murdoch, is there hope yet for Planet Media?

Hulu, that online archive of television shows, has become a multinational boardroom, managing to partner with three of the largest, most-influential media companies on the planet. And getting rival companies to play nice isn’t an easy thing!

That NBC Universal and News Corp originally partnered on Hulu.com was surprising enough. The companies’ rival news channels have been sniping at each other for what seems like forever. But Disney’s recent diving into the Hulu pool changed things markedly, showing that one all-powerful medium can bring rivals together. Commenting on the new partnership, Disney CEO Bob Iger sounded remarkably diplomatic. “New media isn’t going away. We absolutely must be where our consumers are going,” he told analysts.

We had already established that online video sites managed to bring people together from around the globe. YouTube has already been a global phenomenon and Hulu just recently announced a deal with foreign content providers to provide British programming as well as Bollywood movies. Meanwhile, Hulu also claims it is negotiating with up to eight foreign broadcasters, potentially furthering its reach around the world. And just like that, Hulu has changed the face of online broadcasting.

Sure, this all primarily involves people streaming the latest episode of 30 Rock, but there are greater global implications here. Portals like Hulu, Google’s YouTube, and CBS’ TV.com provide a voice, something coveted by everyone from citizens to world leaders.

That hasn’t been lost on President Obama, who in one of this first diplomatic acts as president uploaded a message to the Iranian people on YouTube. The clip featured Farsi subtitles and rung up almost 150,000 views in 18 hours. The White House’s YouTube page has since broadcast regular press briefings and the president’s tri-lateral meetings with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Jordan’s Queen Rania has also begun using YouTube as a diplomatic vehicle.

Of course, services like YouTube have been banned in Iran and other nations for some time, but given the opportunity to broadcast themselves online, leaders, citizens, and even Disney and News Corp can potentially come together through the Hulu/YouTube model.


Is Hulu a Model For Global ...

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