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Hulu Setting Itself Up for Failure

There’s no other way to ensure your success than to tell everyone a month before your private beta launch that there will be failure in your new service. Announced last month, YouTube-rivaling Hulu.com will have failures, as George Kliavkoff, NBC Universal’s chief digital officer, told MediaPost (speaking at the Online Media, Marketing & Advertising conference Monday):

“The most important thing is to not be presumptuous about what’s going to work,” Kliavkoff said.

But to fail successfully, he added, you have to fail fast in order to quickly identify your errors and cut your losses. Success involves setting up “processes to fail fast,” he said.

In all seriousness, setting the bar low can be a good strategy. If it fails, then you can say, “Well, we warned you.” If it succeeds, then you can act as though it’s a pleasant surprise. But is it really a good idea to use the word “failure” to the press weeks before beta launch?

Kliavkoff also gave a more positive preview of not only Hulu but NBC’s other future offerings:

When the site launches next month, visitors can expect more tools for experiencing and engaging with videos, higher-quality videos, and the ability to take “something”–most likely content–away from the site.

According to Kliavkoff, the single biggest opportunity for NBC is mobile, while the current revenue split makes it hard to pay for the creation of suitable content.

“Think what your cell phone means to you as opposed to your TV,” he suggested to the audience.

There’s good news for marketers here. MediaPost reports that his “message to marketers” is “Anything you want to try, we’ll try it with you.” They already plan on utilizing broad distribution as well as incentives designed to increase the site’s stickiness. If those measures aren’t among the failures, both could be a boon to marketers working with Hulu.

Kliavkoff also believes that marketers could benefit more from working with Hulu than, say, I don’t know . . . YouTube? He said, “at the end of the day, premium, produced content wins.” MediaPost reports that this statement was “particularly for marketers.”

MediaPost draws a parallel between new TV shows that flop and online efforts that flop. What do you think: is it a valid comparison? Or is there more pressure to get things right online?

  • http://www.trebtulare.com/real-estate/visalia-ca/ Visalia Homes for Sale

    Under promise – Over deliver? Haha, I doubt it :)

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I can’t say that I’d go with the philosophy of preparing users for failure. It creates a negative mindset before launch and might dissuade people from trying it.

  • http://www.wordhugger.com Word Hugger

    Well maybe they called themselves a potential failure so great popular blogs like this one would take up the story. ;)

  • http://www.watersubject.com Water Portal

    for whatever reason was that move done, they will never rival youtube, youtube is king of its niche and will remain there for long.
    they just should come up with creative idea and build a perfect website for it rather than claiming they will rival youtube just because they are backed by some bigcos.

  • Jordan McCollum

    So a legal way to view and possibly even get copy-righted materials for your site isn’t a “creative idea”?

    Come on, if it were that easy to “just come up with [a] creative idea and build a perfect website for it,” we’d all be millionaires.

  • http://www.watersubject.com Water Portal

    creative idea is not an easy thing, otherwise it would be called creative idea:)
    youtube’s idea was to provide an environment of free and easy video sharing for everyone, there were video portals before youtube but it looks like no one did deliver the end user experience as youtube did. so together with the idea, the way you deliver matters as much as the creativity of the idea does.

  • http://www.watersubject.com Water Portal

    forgot to answer first question,
    if they want to take the market with delivering copyrighted, (may be premium quality) material for free, then they or other people should not call them youtube rival because youtube is not aiming on delivering copyrighted material (well its not that successful in coping it but they are working on it).

  • http://www.topsecretsupport.com Billy

    I signed up for the beta. As anyone who has used a beta on any project knows, you have to expect failures and should never expect it to be flawless.

    The point of a beta test is to find the flaws and fix them, and I plan to find as many as I can, so that it can be as great a service as possible. We must encourage online distributed content, rather than discourage efforts just because some people don’t know what beta means.

  • Jordan McCollum

    Actually, he didn’t specify that the failures would happen in beta. And with the length of time that things spend in “beta” phases, and the state in which they enter “beta” today, I don’t think there is a working solid definition anymore.