ADOTAS – Now you see it, now you don’t: Viacom is yanking “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” “The Colbert Report” and other Comedy Central programs from Internet TV resource Hulu after contract negotiations fell through. Viacom will still stream full-length episodes of the popular satirical shows on their respective websites.
Deals with Hulu normally give 50% to 70% of the advertising revenue to the content owners with the distributor pocketing the rest. Rumors circulated that due to the popularity of its Comedy Central program, Viacom wanted a cash payment upfront.
“We tried to reach a deal; we got close; we continued to talk even over the weekend. But we could not agree on a price,” an anonymous negotiator told The New York Times.
Adny Forsell, Hulu SVP of content and distribution, sounded a bit like a jilted lover in his blog post announcing the dissolution, claiming that the Comedy Central relationship was quite amicable and that Hulu had been generating strong revenue for the shows. Forsell even embedded some of his favorite recent clips from the show — I almost feel like offering the guy my shoulder to cry on.
comScore reported that Hulu had more than 44 million unique users with an average of 22.9 videos viewed in December 2009. Viacom Digital followed Hulu on comScore’s charts with close to 40 million uniques, but less than 10 videos viewed on average. Both sites pale in comparison to the Google-YouTube juggernaut with 178 million uniques and 187 vids per viewer, though the majority of those sites is user-generated content. Hulu served more than a billion videos in December according to comScore, for a 3% share of all vids and second only to Google.
Removal of the shows will sting Hulu as it kills the halo effect — viewers coming in for their daily dose of satire being intrigued by other advertised content. “Daily Show,” in particular, was ranked the third-most popular show on the site.
But both shows have highly loyal fanbases who will go to the ends of the earth to watch the program. In the ongoing shoving match on the Internet between content owners and distributors, Viacom had the higher ground in this battle.