Hulu -- Missing the story

Today's New York media darling is Spitzer's Kristen Hulu. (That's the joint venture between Fox and NBCU, designed to 'compete with YouTube', and initially dubbed 'ClownCo' by Techcrunch's Michael Arrington.)

But the fawning coverage misses the mark. The real story? Hulu's short money and short dev cycle demonstrates exactly how low the barriers to entry to developing a good on-web video playback system have become (I correctly will refuse to abuse the English language by calling it a 'technology'.)

Sure, Hulu has gotten some good reviews (here, techcrunch, here CNN Money, and here, alleyinsider.)

What strikes me most is just how quickly (given who they are) Fox and NBCU were able to create the eyecandy which is at the basis of these positive reviews (let's face it, the yammering about 'great content' is bull - most of this stuff is already out on the web in dozens of unpoliceable venues.)

How did these two giant, cumbersome, not-known-as-ubergeek operations manage this feat? I mean, these outfits aren't exactly Steve Wozniak in his garage.

Simple. They use the Flash toolkit, which is robust. (Bad news, Microsoft Silverlight. Continued good news for Adobe.) And some hired gun programmers (not for attribution, but I believe India is involved.) And a few million bucks.

Not what I would call a significant barrier to entry. I would argue the bigger issue is management old-think; the Hulu partners blew through a reported $15M getting their nifty site ready for launch. Consider that the highly utile YouTube interface (the player you're familiar with) and the scalable basics of the YouTube back end database system cost founders about $2M in seed to grow from scratch.

Still, if even dinos can bust out a nice website and only spend -- let's be kind, 5X -- there is a real story here.

Commoditization is the word that springs to mind.