Hulu, a joint-venture, ad-supported online video site between Fox and NBC, has officially gone into beta today with the launching of a test page at Hulu.com. According to officials from both companies, the final version of the site is slated to premiere within several months, though an exact date has not been set. Users can sign up for a private beta on the homepage. Hulu will offer free viewing of full-length films and TV episodes, supported by advertising, from the aforementioned two companies as well as from Sony Corp. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. "Consumers identify with shows and films," rather than networks, Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar said. "When you aggregate great content together, it makes things easier for the user."
Hulu's debut comes amid tensions between entertainment companies and popular online video sites, such as YouTube, where unauthorized clips from shows often appear. NBC Universal's CEO Jeff Zucker, speaking Monday in New York at an event sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, said he didn't see Hulu as a direct competitor to YouTube, saying the two sites are "really two separate things. Hulu is about quality, premium video. It's safe haven for advertisers. Advertisers want to know where they're placing their ads. It's a lot easier to place your ad in an episode of 'The Office' than it is on the cat on the skateboard."