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Hulu: NBC And Fox Hope It's a Real "Lulu"

NBC Universal (owned by GE which is parent comapny of CNBC) and News Corp. are collaborating on a online video site to compete with YouTube, and today we learned its name: Hulu. (Go to hulu.com) to check out some of the video the on-demand service will be providing--you'll see that Fox's "24" and NBC's "My Name is Earl") are prominently featured.

This odd name is a long awaited nugget from the mystery site, until now nicknamed "NewSite" and nicknamed 'Clown Co' by skeptical Google folks. A joint venture of the two rival media conglomerates, Providence Equity Partners invested $100 million for a 10% stake giving the company a billion dollar valuation.

So what do we know about Hulu other than it's name? It's run by CEO Jason Kilar who previously worked at Amazon.com . He says (in a letter on the site) that they picked "hulu" because it "strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we're building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world's premier content when, where and how you want it."

The site's content, which judging by the current home page, clearly includes many NBC and FOX shows, though its unclear which Universal and 20th Century Fox films will be included. The content will be available on hulu.com as well as through AOL, MSN, MySpace,Yahoo,CNET and Comcast. The two collaborating companies boasted when they announced these distributors that these five companies reach 98% of the American Internet Audience. They also announced advertisers including General Motors, Intel, Cadbury Schweppes, and Cisco.

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There are still lots of looming questions--is the site launching too late? Will NBC Uni and News Corp. get other media companies on board? Do they need broader collaboration for this Hulu site to compete with YouTube? Will these two rivals really collaborate fully? Or will one TV network or the other want to keep the most popular content for their own site? Will advertising on the content be distracting and turn off viewers? or will it work?

(If you have any thoughts on these questions, e-mail me!)

The company launches a beta test in October--I signed up for an invitation to check it out, so I'll be sure to keep my blog updated with info!

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.