Apparently Hulu is what you get when two of the major networks (NBC Universal and News Corp) get 100M to build a next gen Internet TV platform.  Hulu is well situated in the hub of the media industry basing itself in the center of Los Angeles.  Much like Gmail was for a long time, Hulu is currently in private beta, you need an invite to get access to Hulu.  Though again like Gmail if you really want access, invites aren't that hard to come by.

Once you do get into Hulu you might be surprised because it is considerable slicker, then TV viewing through the normal website of the various networks.  They are even beginning to add HD content, which is pretty cool in my book.  With over 100 programs offered from 15 TV stations they are off to a pretty good start with content.  Not every show has every episode available, which is annoying, but I'll cut them some slack since its still in private beta.  

One of the things that impresses me about Hulu, is that its a good show of faith that the entertainment industry is trying to adapt their business model around new channels as opposed to just fight it.  While nobody likes, watching ads, they are an important way to monetize content, and thus one of the primary mechanisms for entertainment types to get paid.  For a while, now there has been this fear that if you allowed people to share content, then you lost control of advertising.  Yet Hulu handles this issue quite well because they allow you to embed the tv shows outside of Hulu's main site, but there still is scheduled advertisement pauses so everyone gets paid, regardless of whether the video is embedded offsite or your watching it on  That seems fair to me, and as a consumer I can accept that.   Besides the inability to download to my ipod or whatever, they don't restrict where I can share Hulu videos online, and that freedom coming from a major network is a good step.

Of course its not all rosey pictures in the land of Hulu.  First off I hate the name (and a funny anecdote is that it means cease and desist in swahili).  And I really wonder about why the investment dollars were in the 100M range.  It seems the networks could have done something similar on their own site (in fact they sort of already do) for far less money.  Obviously everyone wants to compete with Youtube and Itunes as being sort of a universal place to distribute content, but I still think in some ways this was all overplayed a bit.  

In the end though Hulu is a step in the right direction by the big boys, and its good to see them trying to embrace the direction of technology.  In some ways just getting major organizations like NBC Universal and News Corp to both agree on the vision is pretty amazing.

If you want to see more screenshots of Hulu since its still in private beta: check out this review