NBC Bails on YouTube

NBC has pulled clips of its programs from YouTube, apparently in preparation for the launch of the network’s Hulu site on the Web. Hulu is a new joint project between NBC and News Corp that is supposed to launch by the end of October but there are few signs of life at the Web address. The new service will apparently host full length episodes of NBC and Fox programming.

This latest move is just one more bit of proof that we are still in the “spaghetti stage” — throwing things at the wall to see what sticks — in merging the existing Hollywood network programming model with the distribution of video content across the Internet. NBC tussled with YouTube over the unauthorized publishing of copyrighted clips, then worked out a deal where the network put its own promotional clips on YouTube, and now they’re pulling their clips again.

Will Hulu be a hit? I don’t know and it’s hard to judge until the site is actually up and running. But there was a perfect example right here in my own house that demonstrates the power of online TV episodes. My wife thought she had missed an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. (It turns out that she only missed part of the final scenes, because ABC ends the show right at the top of the hour, which causes our DVR to miss the last minute.) She was able to go to the ABC site and watch the end of the most recent episode, and see what she had missed. If it was as easy to watch the Web site on the TV in our living room, she might not bother recording the show at all.