Friday, March 20, 2009

Hulu Expands Documentary Fare

KobreGuide gladly showcased Hulu's first hour-long documentary, Crawford, an illuminating look at the townsfolk in Pres. George W. Bush's adopted hometown, and how they were affected by his arrival.

We wondered whether viewers would have the time, patience and inclination to commit to spending an hour or more gazing at a movie on a computer monitor. But we also realized that this fare will soon appear on your TV set, among other screens. So, despite the fact that most of what's on KobreGuide is in the 2- to 7-minute range, we subsequently devoted an entire section of KobreGuide to longer video stories, in our "Got an Hour?" section.

Hulu is an NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture that mostly streams primetime sitcoms online after they air on TV. When we recently checked in, we were amazed to find that, in the past few months, Hulu's feature-length documentary offerings have increased exponentially. They've even been given their own section.

Andy Forssell, Hulu's SVP of content acquisition and distribution, recently told Broadcasting & Cable magazine that its documentary section will feature films as well as short-form content. “It is really an exciting part of the industry. These filmmakers and their distributors are really looking at streaming carefully,” Forssell said, adding that the site is working with its major content partners to seed the section as well:

One of the opportunities in the movies [section] was to focus more on documentaries because the online availability provided them with a great chance to find and reach an audience. We focus on making a great platform but we love making connections between audience and content.

It is a great outlet for the content creators, because a very small percentage of their films may be in theaters; they are looking to be online.
According to B&C:

The section puts all of the documentary movies, TV shows and shorts in one place, making it easier for users to find. Plus it will help Hulu form relationships with independent filmmakers and studios, which could become a valuable source of content down the line.
Hulu's documentary channel features television programming from PBS, as well as the recently canceled FX show 30 Days. Newly added films include Super Size Me, which was the inspiration for the FX show, as well as Kicking It, which aired on ESPN last year, and Confessions of a Super Hero.

We'll be looking through their selections to find programming worthy of KobreGuide. Our feeling is that, if the material is meritorious and engaging, people will commit to it. We hope you agree.

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