'If I Can Dream' makes Hulu debut

Simon Fuller's "If I Can Dream" makes its debut on Hulu today (you can watch episode 1--a lead up to the action--here), the online video hub's first stab at original content. How is it? The lone poster on USA Today summed it up in one word: Lame. It's hard to disagree.

But the effort is an interesting one in that Hulu, which comScore ranks as the No. 2 video property in the U.S. with some 1 billion views in December, should see some traffic from the reality show that follows five wannabe stars singing and acting their way to the big time. What makes it different from "American Idol" (another Fuller brainchild) is that it melds in elements of other reality successes like "The Real World" and "Jersey Shore," following the cast as they pursue their dreams while living in a fully wired Hollywood home. Viewers can watch a 30-minute highlight of the show, or they can follow the cast 24/7 live on a streaming video site, which seems a little too close.

What also makes it interesting for the online video world is that it's designed to live--and prosper--on the web. "If I Can Dream" isn't a catch up TV episode, it's ours alone. At least it is for the moment. Ford and Pepsi have agreed to cover most of the show's costs, but it will also include several pre-roll ads in the highlight episode from other advertisers as well, although the load is much less than you'd sit through on a traditional broadcast. Hulu has some display ads on the site, too.

Fuller and 19 Entertainment wanted to go the traditional route (if there is one) for a reality show, and offered "If I Can Dream" up to broadcast and cable first, with no luck. Hulu ate it up.

We'll have to wait and see what the public thinks.

For more:
- see this Reuters article