Daily Show And Colbert Report Dropped From Hulu: What's Next?

We don't enjoy saying that the first ball has dropped here, but it sure seems that way. Hulu, which was called by NBC an "evil plan to destroy the world," might just be destroying NBC's hope of raking in any serious profits. The site delivers all sorts of television programs to online viewers at no cost, only requiring them to watch ads along the way. For many, it has been seen as something that was "too good to be true." But still, Hulu was making money from ads, and viewers were tuning in in greater numbers due to the flexibility of being able to watch their favorite shows whenever they pleased.

In a way, Hulu helped to revolutionize the way we view content. Now, tons of online portals have opened up for providing looks at programming that was reserved for the television just four or five years ago, but this type of breakthrough also brings along growing pains. Growing pains such as the removal of support from Boxee (which is still being debated, even in Congress) and the removal of some of Hulu's most popular programs. This week, parent company Viacom has announced that it will soon yank "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" from Hulu, with Hulu's own Andy Forssell (senior VP of content and distribution) saying that Hulu couldn't secure rights to both shows from Comedy Central beyond March 9.

This whole situation brings up an interesting debate. Clearly, these two shows cater to the demographic most likely to tune into Hulu; younger professionals with busy lives and no real way to carve out specific hours to watch shows. In other words, these viewers would be most likely to watch online versus on TV, and Comedy Central may be seeing this as an opportunity to grab subscription fees. Both shows, strangely enough, will continue to be posted online for free viewing at their respective official sites, but users will have to manually surf over there rather than just pulling up Hulu and using that portal.

So, what will this mean for the future of Internet TV? Well, it pretty much cements the fact that it's not going away. If Comedy Central executives care enough about how many people are watching via Hulu, then it's a pretty safe bet to assume that these shows will keep coming online. The real question is: will they eventually cost anything to view outside of watching ads?