Hulu at TCA: A Presentation to Rival Many Basic Cable Networks - Ed Martin
Published: August 1, 2012 at 04:10 PM GMT
|Ed Martin -- Click on the photo - read Ed Martin's Watercooler TV archives.|
Last Updated: August 1, 2012 at 04:10 PM GMT
By Ed Martin
Hulu yesterday made its second appearance at a Television Critics Association tour with a presentation that could have easily been mistaken for one by a major cable network. It even featured a celebrity panelist who is known primarily for his work in cable television during the last three decades.
In the space of two hours, Hulu presented five panels for current and upcoming series that will undoubtedly help it continue to stand out from the growing number of online video services and digital content providers that are engaged in an ever-intensifying challenge for viewer engagement and advertiser support. Wisely, the service has in the space of two tour appearances established itself as a major player at TCA.
The standout panel yesterday featured Larry King, on hand to talk about his new Hulu talk show "Larry King Now," new installments of which are presented every Monday through Thursday. King, one of the few media stars to begin his career in radio, move on to television and now work in the digital space, marveled at the fact that viewers can watch his almost-daily show any time or place they want to. King has made regular appearances at TCA tours over the years to promote his CNN series and specials, so having him here to talk about his move to the Internet resonated with the veteran critics and reporters in attendance, if not the bloggers, many of whom are too young to have invested much time (if any) watching King in the Eighties, Nineties or the last decade.
Hulu made great strides yesterday in establishing itself in the eyes of the media as a significant destination for American audiences seeking television programs from other countries in their original unedited form. In fact, Hulu brought in a number of actors and producers from international series to promote the U.S. debuts of their shows. A presentation for "Prisoners of War" ("Hatufim"), an acclaimed Israeli series that premiered on Hulu July 14 and has been subtitled for American consumption, featured series creator, writer and director Gideon Raff, along with stars Mili Avital and Ishai Golan. The preview clips and interviews that followed were so interesting that, following Hulu's afternoon, a number of critics went to their rooms and immediately began watching the first episode of the show. "Prisoners of War" has been honored with nine Israeli Emmy Awards and is the series on which Showtime's hit spy thriller "Homeland" is based. Raff serves as an executive producer and writer on "Homeland."
There were also panels for two British comedies, both of them BAFTA award winners, which are currently available in this country exclusively on Hulu. The first was "The Thick of It," a political comedy from Armando Iannucci, the creator and one of the writers of HBO's new comedy "Veep." Iannucci was on hand along with series leads James Smith and Joanne Scanlan. The first three seasons of "Thick" are currently available on Hulu, while the fourth season, which will mark Hulu's first international co-production in partnership with BBC Worldwide Americas, will debut this fall. Episodes will premiere simultaneously on television in the United Kingdom and on Hulu in the United States, Forssell said.
The second comedy presented was "Rev.", about the daily challenges and moral conflicts of an inner-city vicar. Co-creator and star Tom Hollander, co-creator and writer James Wood and executive producer Kenton Allen were here to promote the show, the first two seasons of which are currently on Hulu.
The one program Hulu presented yesterday that didn't seem particularly interesting was its upcoming reality series "Up to Speed," from director Richard Linklater. It follows oddball tour guide and historian Timothy "Speed" Levitch around the country as he explores lesser-known monuments and areas of significance in major cities.
If other online video services want to begin making regular appearances at TCA tours, they could do a lot worse than to follow the example set by Hulu, which puts together presentations here that actually surpass those of some basic cable networks. After effective TCA debuts last week by Yahoo! and YouTube and Hulu's successful return this week, it would seem that many other digital content providers might want to appear next year at the January and July tours. Certainly, it's time for Netflix to join the schedule.
To communicate with or to be contacted by the executives and/or companies mentioned in this column, link to JackMyers Connection Hotline.