The Hulu Scoop: NBCU/News Corp. Brand Video Site, Open Private Beta

The highly anticipated joint venture between News Corp. and NBC Universal that will stream full episodes of hit series such as "The Simpsons" and "My Name is Earl" finally has a name: A beta version of the site went live this morning, inviting people to sign up to a private beta test of the new service.

"Why Hulu?" writes the venture's CEO Jason Kilar on the site. "Objectively, Hulu is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself. Subjectively, Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we're building."

Kilar -- named CEO of the stand-alone company NewSite that runs Hulu -- went on to write that the site's "never-ending mission ... is to help you find and enjoy the world's premier content when, where and how you want it."

News Corp. and NBCU have been coy about the video destination's moniker since the announcement of the venture came in March. Hulu - which some have said looks to be a "YouTube killer" since it will offer full episodes of network and cable hits, plus movies, as opposed to a heavy emphasis on user-generated low-quality videos - recently received a financial infusion via a reported $100 million investment by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners which gave that group a 10% stake.



Visitors to can now sign up to receive an invitation to use the site once the content actually is available for viewing (only the names of shows that will be available sits on the home page so far.) Kilar indicated the site - which will be free and ad-supported -- will go live in October, a month after executives at the partner media companies had indicated it would.

NBC shows that will be available besides "My Name is Earl" include "Las Vegas" and the coming "Bionic Woman. From News Corp., coming series besides "The Simpsons" include Fox's "American Dad" and "Bones," as well as the freshman series "K-Ville," -plus two series from its FX cable channel, "Dirt" and "The Riches." There is no indication of which films might be available from either Universal Pictures or Twentieth Century Fox.

NBC Universal executive Kevin McGurn is heading up sales efforts for the ad-supported site, MediaPost has learned. That was confirmed by a July post by blogger Donna Bogatin, who conducted an interview with him. McGurn has headed sales for a previous NBCU broadband venture, NBBC. When the site was announced News Corp. and NBCU said a run of advertisers had already signed up, including General Motors and Cisco.

The site's content - thousands of hours of full-length programming are promised -- will be distributed via sites AOL, MSN, MySpace, Yahoo, CNET and Comcast. Site operators say it will reach 98% of the U.S. Internet audience.

"This is a game changer for Internet video," Peter Chernin, News Corp. president-COO, said in March when the site was announced. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want -- professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live. We're excited about the potential for this alliance and we're looking forward to working with any content provider or distributor who wants to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity."

Among the films News Corp. and NBCU said would be available include "Borat," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Devil Wears Prada" and "Bourne Supremacy," as well as various movie trailers.

Its launch distribution partners will provide the biggest potential reach of any player on the Internet. Moreover, the new site will actively seek agreements with a variety of additional distribution partners.

"This new venture is further proof that the Internet is now a full-fledged entertainment medium, and we are delighted to serve as a major online distribution partner for the quality content produced by these media powerhouses, as well as a provider of strategic services to the new venture," Randy Falco, AOL Chairman-CEO, said in March.

Kilar, Hulu's CEO, previously worked at before joining to launch the venture in July.

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