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News Corp's Hulu takes on YouTube & iTunes

New video beta from News Corp and NBC

News Corp and NBC Universal have debuted their joint-venture online video service Hulu.com with a private beta, adding a new rival to Apple's iTunes and Google's YouTube services.

Hulu joins Joost's video offerings in this increasingly hot and crowded space. While only opening on a limited basis to select users, Hulu is the first major initiative by content owners rather than technology companies who must rely on licensing agreements with television, film, and music providers for their content.

Along with Hulu's own site, the company said its videos would be available through partners such as AOL, MSN and MySpace, although links for Hulu on these sites were not apparent at the time of writing.

The company also said it had closed a $100m round of financing from Rhode Island-based private equity firm Providence Equity Partners.

Hulu's beta and service - the launch date for which has yet to be announced - include a few full-length films, and clips and full episodes from shows such as 'The Simpsons', 'Prison Break', and 'House'. Hulu will offer video content on a free, advertising-driven basis.


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