Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Set Phasers to Hulu: CBS Cuts Another Web Video Deal

Hulu started out as a way to watch lots of TV shows from NBC and Fox, and later added ABC. Now it has shows from CBS, too, which means it has deals with all four broadcast networks.

So that’s a big deal, right?

Nope, not really.

Shorter version: This is a deal for “library” shows from CBS. Which is another way of saying “old” shows from CBS, like “CSI: Miami” and “really old” shows, like “Star Trek.”

And almost all of them will be on the Hulu Plus subscription service, not the free

And CBS is getting paid a license fee for this stuff, but isn’t taking an equity stake in the joint venture along with the other broadcasters.

Plus, CBS has already been working with Hulu, via a deal for CW shows like “Gossip Girl.”

Even shorter version: Remember the deal CBS cut with Netflix in 2011? This is basically the same thing.

One new tweak to this deal: The free Hulu site will get a smattering of stuff, all designed to drive eyeballs elsewhere. CBS will rotate through a handful of its old shows on the site as a promotion for Hulu Plus. It will also provide clips from “day-of” episodes of “Entertainment Tonight,” its syndicated infotainment program.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work