By Ryan Downey
The Streaming Advisor
Hulu has its sights set on the live TV streaming market The service is set to launch a new service sometime in 2017 and it hopes to avoid major glitches as it rolls out publicly. 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch says that Hulu is very, very focused on avoiding the kinds of problems faced by other services like Sling TV and DirecTV. Can it?
Right now there are three major live TV streaming services PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and DirecTV Now. None of the services has managed to work without highly publicized problems. The biggest issues usually involve the highest profile events. Sling TV had issues with the Final Four during its first foray into streaming. HBO Go, an on-demand service, has suffered problems during the debut of Game Of Thrones and most recently Fox, which streamed the 2017 Super Bowl, suffered a signal loss on its English language stream via Fox Sports 1. DirecTV Now has experienced a slew of complaints over its performance on just basic streaming. What do all of these services have in common? They are all giants in the field. Sling TVis owned by Dish Network, DirecTV Now by AT&T, HBO Now is obvious to the point of not needing to be named. Yet they have had their share of problems. The moral of the story is that it is hard to do live streaming without any hiccups.
Hulu has an advantage over the rest of the field. It didn’t go first or even 5th. This means that it has the chance to learn from the mistakes that others have made. Will it? Most of the time when the high-profile events have trouble it is because the network can not handle the multiple concurrent streams. Some of the problems that people run into on the services is more of an operator error such as too little bandwidth in a household, a slow internet connection or a device that is not powerful enough to the stream. Hulu can not avoid having users who don’t understand how fast their Internet is but what it can do is make sure that its network can handle the traffic.
Do not launch before a major event
I’ve always said that the best way to avoid conflict is to avoid it. So that is one thing that Hulu should do. Don’t try to make a big splash during the NCAA tournament, championship week or another highly anticipated event. Don’t launch before a major TV debut, a highly watched political event like what could be a humdinger a State of the Union etc. Start at a quiet time when people are on summer vacations and not watching much.
Roll out slowly
HBO Now had the right idea when it launched exclusively on Apple devices. Despite its high demand HBO Now was only available on Mac products, IOS and the generation 3 Apple TV, which at the time had fallen far out of the top-tier of streaming devices behind multiple Roku products, Amazon Fire TV. This changed as demand for the box picked up after the launch of the service. but by keeping its roll out tight. The app is now on all of the major platforms but by starting small it gave itself a chance to walk before it ran.
Don’t Do it In House
I have 3 words for you Hulu, MLB Advanced Media. This company has become the jewel of high-level streaming. They have been behind the MLBTV, one of the more successful live streaming operations for years as well as the WWE Network. Hulu’s people may think they have it down because of years of work building its on-demand service but it should go with the best on this.
If Hulu is able to deliver a live TV service without major or even minor problems and combine it with its legacy on-demand service, it may well have a chance to make a major impact. The public wants a fully reliable streaming option and even the slightest issues can be blown up because of social media and the way reporting on social media can shape a story.