For media companies, free-to-consumer,
ad-supported Internet video just isn’t paying off .
No joke: Viacom will end the 21-month run of Comedy
Central’s The Daily ShowWith Jon Stewart and The
Colbert Report on Hulu, effective March 9, while full episodes
from both shows will continue to be available on
Viacom’s own sites.
Neither Comedy Central nor parent Viacom provided
an explanation for why the shows were coming
off Hulu, which is a joint venture of News Corp.,
The Walt Disney Co. and NBC Universal. According to
several reports, Viacom and Hulu were simply unable
to agree on the terms of their revenue split.
Meanwhile, executives at Hulu and its parent companies
have repeatedly discussed the likelihood that the
Web site — the Internet’s most popular destination for
professionally produced TV — will institute a subscription
model at some point for some content.
In a statement, Comedy Central said: “Hulu was one of
the many digital distribution partners we’ve worked with
over the past few years to add new outlets for our valuable
and powerful content and to help drive the businesses of
our partners. We had a great experience with Hulu, and
we hope to work with its team again in the future.”
Full episodes will continue to be available at The DailyShow.com and ColbertNation.com.
Comedy Central had made The Daily Show With Jon
Stewart and The Colbert Report available through Hulu
since June 2008.
Andy Forssell, Hulu’s senior vice president of content
and distribution, said in a blog post that Hulu “is
continuing to talk to the Comedy Central folks about a
number of opportunities. They’re a great team and I’m
confident that we’ll be working with them in multiple
ways in the future.”
The development “was yet another reminder that
the evolution of Web TV will not follow a linear path,”
wrote Sanford Bernstein analysts Michael Nathanson
and Craig Moff ett in a research note Wednesday.
The Bernstein analysts noted that six companies —
Disney, Time Warner Inc., News Corp., Viacom, CBS and
NBC Universal — control more than 80% of TV viewing
hours in the U.S., as measured by Nielsen. “Until they
find a model that is economically viable, the development
of online video will be halting at best,” Nathanson
and Moffett wrote.