Why The Daily Show Left Hulu

Today Hulu announced that John Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be departing the service. The content will however be available at The Daily Show and The Colbert Report websites.

As many note, this is a serious blow to Hulu in terms of losing a major performer and content draw.

Brian Stellar from the New York Times added some additional facts surrounding the relationship though suggests this move to depart Hulu “does not represent a strategic shift for Viacom.”

I would suggest that this move *is* part of a strategic shift, specifically for Viacom and The Daily Show in particular, and in general, part of an invetiable trend to centralize a brand’s online audience. In an article a couple of months ago entitled “Video Distribution Tending Towards Centralization”, I noted the following observation:

“Along with this…..is a trend with reverting back to the pre-social network days of placing an emphasis on your own domain dot com. The NYTimes and CNN for example have been putting more development into their own on-site and single-point-of-distribution strategies….This centralizing trend has always seemed inevitable for preserving as much of the revenue share as possible. ”

In other words, whatever they get for ad sales over there at Hulu is going to be split up between Hulu and Comedy Central. Why should Comedy Central cut in Hulu on their ad money? They can sell their own ads for a premium and make 100% of the share if they do it themselves. Some shows may be glad to give Hulu 50% or even more of the rev share because Hulu brings an audience they dont already have. But eventually, for any top show, the leverage tide will turn and the middle person will be the first to go.

I remember the period of time Robert Scoble transitioned away from placing an emphasis on his own destination webiste at Scobleizer, and began doing most of his work via Twitter and Friendfeed. He essentially became decentralized. I used to suggest he was diluting himself and destroying the great SEO juice he had built up for himself. If he could somehow get all that chatter back onto his own destination at scobelizer.com, I imagined, he would be able to maximize the value for himself, his audience and his sponsors. It used to be that his name and his website would pop up in a search for the latest tech news, though soon it would be link-juice that got attributed to Twitter, and then eventually he lost a lot of search rank (there are pros & cons, but this had some negative impact against the same principles he had employed in prior times). For those who know exactly what I’m talking about, you’ve probably also noted that Scobelizer has in the last year really centralized his presence back towards his own site where he has complete control of the experience. It’s the natural thing to do for advertising, SEO, etc.

As you can see below, The Daily Show can still be everywhere (embedded right here on my blog for instance), but it’s in control, gets all the money for the advertising and has all the marketing space.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Intro – Olympics Hockey Game Bet www.thedailyshow.com