Having emerged from beta Wed, online video site and NBCU / Fox jv Hulu.com continues to be widely scrutinized, and for good reason. Such is life at a time when prudent programmers and content owners are searching for their golden ticket to online/multiplatform viewership success. Problem is, just what content, user interface and business model will best lead to a visit with Willy Wonka remains a mystery at worst, and a trial-and-error escapade at best. But with luminaries such as Michael Eisner and Disney pres/CEO Bob Iger insistent that media must embrace the digital domain or languish, and with data from myriad sources showing solid (though varied) usage of online video, it seems that such initiatives will eventually flourish. Those that don’t will fail to effectively mesh the aforementioned tricky triad, with content still the most important component. In my previous review of Hulu ( Cfax, 12/14), I expressed a fondness for the site’s content. Considering the selection has only increased since, that assessment holds. Same with the interface, which remains beautifully uncluttered and exceedingly simple to navigate. Putting technology aside, what’s left is the business model, which drew the heaviest disagreement at NATPE in Jan. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar swore by an advertising model at the conference and, according to a Hulu spokeswoman, the model has yielded success. The site’s ads were sold out in beta, she said, and “nearly all [advertisers] have renewed” for the launch. Ads within 22min TV eps tally approx 2mins, or approx one-quarter of the typical time on broadcast TV. Movie viewers can opt to watch a 2-3min movie trailer and view their selection uninterrupted. Other ads allow users to select the spot they watch. Beta users said the ads on Hulu are “more effective” than those on other media, noted Hulu’s rep. Good news, to be sure, but let’s wait until, say, ’10 before judging the success of Hulu and similar ventures. CH


John Adams,” Sun, 8pm, HBO. Critics have been mixed about this 7-part series, and it’s hard to imagine many eyeballs sticking with this gritty and sometimes slow-moving look at America’s independence. But it’s their loss with so much to admire about Tom Hanks ‘ production, its attention to detail in plot, sets and costumes, for example. And there’s plenty of history to learn from it. A fine actor, Paul Giamatti doesn’t quite work as Adams, but that’s a quibble. Behind every successful man is a disbelieving mother-in-law. For Adams, the power behind him is whirlwind wife Abigail, played with verve by Laura Linney. How she raised a family solo—John was absent for half their first 14 years of marriage—deserves more screen time. Still, she receives due respect; George Washington (given an historically accurate reading by David Morse) is among her admirers. He guarantees delivery of her letters to John at the Continental Congress, “so that we all may benefit from your wisdom.” SA


“Wisegal,” Sat, 9pm, Lifetime. Throughout this mob tale you expect Tony Danza to burst in to warn single mom Patty Montanari ( Alyssa Milano) to get out before she gets in too deep. It’s easy to discount this as just another Lifetime film, but it’s far better thanks to exec prod Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco. SA

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