With Hulu going live this month, the portals that are distribution partners for this NBC Universal-News Corp. online video joint venture continue to focus on streaming full-length episodes and building out content around popular TV shows.
All the TV sites at the top portals saw slight dips in February compared with January, according to data from Nielsen Online. AOL Television finished on top with 10.5 million unique visitors for the month, Yahoo TV had 9.6 million. The Microsoft-owned MSN TV had the biggest drop month-to-month, ending with 6.8 million visitors.
Reed Price, MSN’s editor in chief, entertainment and video, said his site was hurt in February by residual effects of the WGA strike. He said that the recaps, news and photo galleries of popular shows are consistently the biggest draw for MSN TV, which distributes Hulu and CBS content, and because new episodes of many of these shows weren’t available in February, traffic was affected.
For the month, NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” was the top Hulu show on MSN. “Jericho” was the most popular CBS show as far as streams on MSN.
For AOL TV, streaming full episodes is a new endeavor. The Time Warner-owned site — the only portal to offer ABC primetime shows in addition to Hulu and CBS content — started streaming Feb. 14, and AOL TV and Moviefone publisher Kristin Rolla said “30 Rock” and “Jericho” have been the most popular shows thus far.
Even though there are no full episodes on the site, the area relating to Fox’s “American Idol” was the most popular section in February, Rolla said. She noted that the “bulk of the traffic” to her site comes from general TV news.
With streaming episodes, news and AOL-exclusive offerings like the clips package “TV’s Top 5,” Rolla noted that its important to have a mix on the site.
“We present a 360-degree view of TV,” she said. “We don’t want to be just one thing, and I don’t think we are.”
Karin Gilford, head of entertainment at Yahoo, said the “American Idol” section was the top draw for her site for February. She also mentioned that CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” and a condensed version of E!’s “The Soup” also were popular on the site, which streams Hulu content but not shows from CBS.
News Corp.’s MySpaceTV also presents Hulu content on its site, but Nielsen Online does not break out its traffic separately from MySpace’s.