Role Reversal: Hulu’s Original Programming To Air On “Real” TV

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Some interesting news for streaming service Hulu today: in a role reversal of sorts, the company is bringing its own original programming to television for the first time with the debut of “Spoilers” on Canada’s SPACE, a sci-fi/horror/fantasy channel. The show features filmmaker Kevin Smith (“Clerks”) and guests discussing their favorite summer movies. The deal also makes the show available for streaming on the TV channel’s website at SPACECAST.com.

“Spoilers” is a fun diversion for movie buffs, featuring Smith sitting with geeky entertainment idols like Damon Lindelof, who talks about his involvement in the Alien prequel Prometheus, as well as his work on “Alias” and “Lost,” for example. Other movies also fit the channel’s overall geeky vibe, with guests from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Snow White and the Huntsman, and even a special appearance from Leia – I mean, Carrie Fisher – who talks about Star Wars (duh).

But the more interesting news, at least from the tech perspective, is how this deal blurs the line between what is “real” TV versus online, streaming or web TV. Hulu, like Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo and others, is getting into the businesses of not just offering up programming from its content partners, but actually producing its own shows. For now, these companies are picking up the kinds of niche programs that may not have gotten the greenlight by the big networks in need of massive, mainstream hits. But get enough of these smaller shows, make them quality shows, and you’ve got a compelling reason for consumers to ditch their cable TV subscriptions. And once the programs earn viewers, Hulu (and others) can also begin to bring in even better actors/writers/directors to keep the quality improving. It also reduces Hulu’s reliance on the deals it makes with the major studios and networks. Plus, with the option to funnel the programming back to cable TV, the move into originals also creates a new revenue channel (channel, ha! groan?) as well.

Some of these shows are actually quite good, you have to admit. Critic and fan favorite “Arrested Development,” for example, is returning to Netflix. Netflix’s “Lilyhammer” is not too bad either. Hulu’s roster, meanwhile, has been growing in recent months, too, but it could use a few more high-profile series. The move to bring one of its more brand-name stars to a TV channel, even if small, is an interesting start to what may be a new way business is done in the industry at large.