The world’s worst-kept secret is almost here. Hulu is expected to soon pilot a monthly access fee to its video treasure trove, perhaps calling it “Hulu Plus.” The naysayers are out in force, saying it will never work.
That’s why they invented marketing.
The starting point as always is defining the segments you want to go after. The naysayers are NOT in play here – the last thing Hulu needs to waste time on are “the Internets are free” bloodsuckers.
More fruitful segments would include people who can’t afford full cable or satellite, and those that want a supplement to cable/satellite. Something like 100 million people, I’d estimate.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Even though our targets are not early adopters, many will have heard of Hulu. They will be aware to some degree that Hulu used to be free (or their friends will point that out to them).
So Hulu’s marketing must clearly acknowledge this, and state what is new: better selection, more archives, no ads to watch, etc. (I made those up, by the way). In a world of “free,” you can’t simply start charging for what was once gratis.
Better Than Who, How?
After positioning itself against its former self, Hulu Plus has to pick its competitive targets. It is obvious who that is in the case of the anti-cable segment. But Hulu is going to have its hands full trying to attract the “supplementers,” who have a ton of online alternatives.
It can play up its TV inventory (“the best shows”), movie selection (which is horrid, but it can maybe get away with “something for everyone”), and its archives (“easy to find classic episodes”). I think Hulu’s ace-in-the-hole, though, is its breadth of selection across so many categories (“everything you need, in one place”).
Mind The Gaps
Without CBS on board, Hulu has an obvious defect that marketing can’t cure. One hope would be that subscriptions take off, and CBS gets religion.
Hulu, of course, cannot solve for live broadcasting. It’s the reason we have cable and satellite subscriptions at ten times the price. To date the public has voted with its wallet on this one.
Hulu Plus will know three days after launch how well things are going to turn out. And if it goes well, then the battles across the media and technology landscape will have only just begun. And that will be fun to watch. On any screen.