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Big TV muscles in on online video

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Hulu, the US online video effort set up as a joint venture by NBC and News Corp, launched in full today.

Hulu, which we're told means "precious" in Hawaiian, has been in private beta since October. Its development was first announced in March 2007.

As well as its primary big studio backers, Warner Brothers TV and film studio Lionsgate have also signed up to pump the site with content in recent days.

The site is more akin to the BBC's streaming iPlayer than YouTube, showing full-length TV episodes and movies in decent quality Flash, and without a user upload function. See for yourself here.

There are some gems on offer including The Simpsons, Battlestar Galactica and The Big Lebowski. It's all geo-targeted on IP address, so it should only be available in the US... in theory.

Hulu is 100 per cent backed by advertising, with all shows and movies free to view. On our visit we saw both banner and video ads for Taco Bell, before and during the episode. Though it won't really be competing with YouTube on content - cats playing piano versus Arrested Development - the two sites will be battling for online advertisers' dollars.

UK broadcasters are plotting their own commercial TV aggregator in the form of Project Kangaroo, a collaboration between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4. ®

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