Have you Hulu-ed?

It started up months ago—amidst doubts and some industry criticism— but yesterday the oddly-named Hulu had its official public launch. According to their About page, Hulu’s “ambitious and never-ending mission is to help you find and enjoy the world’s premium content when, where and how you want it.”

USA Today noted:

Hulu’s launch is a big bet by big media companies that consumers are as eager to spend long periods of time watching TV shows and movies in front of their computers as they are in front of their televisions.

Ahead of its test launch four months ago, the service was greeted skeptically as a rival to Google’s (GOOG) YouTube video-sharing site. Hulu has won over some of its harshest critics, including technology blog TechCrunch, which has since praised the venture for focus on professional content, easy-to-use design and video quality.

With no marketing and a private test pool of users, the service has attracted more than 5 million viewers in the past month, said Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar.

About 80% of its entire video library is viewed every seven days, a sign likely to be viewed favorably by programming partners seeking ways to boost profits from vintage shows, Kilar said.

Hulu is going to be the one to watch because this represents a real shift in marketing paradigm when it comes to mass entertainment. There’s no cost to the end user, and the interface is simple and easy-to-use. Selections can even be played full-screen, and the streaming is smooth (I expected a lot of bumps and pauses, but found it much higher-quality than I’d expected).

Some would say that such a site is long overdue, but nevertheless, networks and studios making their content available for free, and in full through a third-party this way is opening up a whole new ball game.

And I’m not just saying that because I found my husband sitting here in our office watching Remington Steele on his laptop this morning….

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