How To Properly Make A Mistake (Or Why I Love Hulu)

We have one TV in our house, and it’s a little 21″ tube tv that sits in my office, more for TV-Out with my Nokia’s than for anything else, really. There’s some foil-covered rabbit ears sticking out of the back, and nothing else hooked into it. So where do we watch TV? Hulu.com. If you’re not familiar with Hulu, you should check it out – it’s awesome. It’s a free, legitimate site that allows you to watch TV, on your computer. They also have some movies on there, but I don’t know if that’s their best feature.

I watch Hulu every single day on my lunch break. It’s there, there’s a massive catalog, and it’s free. Awesome. Anyways, I wanted to share with you another reason I love Hulu – they’re honest, and respect their users, alot. Take, for instance, this, which was posted after the site pulled down 3 seasons’ worth of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia without properly alerting users:

Customer trust is hard won, easily lost.

On January 9, we removed nearly 3 seasons of full episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” We did this at the request of the content owner. Despite Hulu’s opinion and position on such content removals (which we share liberally with all of our content partners), these things do happen and will continue to happen on the Hulu service with regards to some television series. As power users of Hulu have seen, we’ve added a large amount of content to the library each month, and every once in a while we are required to remove some content as well.

This note, however, is not about the fact that episodes of ”It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were taken down. Rather, this note is to communicate to our users that we screwed up royally with regards to _how_ we handled this specific content removal and to apologize for our lack of strong execution. We gave effectively no notice to our users that these ”Sunny” episodes would be coming off the service. We handled this in precisely the opposite way that we should have. We believe that our users deserve the decency of a reasonable warning before content is taken down from the Hulu service. Please accept our apologies.

Given the very reasonable user feedback that we have received on this topic (we read every twitter, email and post), we have just re-posted all of the episodes that we had previously removed. I’d like to point out to our users that the content owner in this case – FX Networks – was very quick to say yes to our request to give users reasonable advance notice here, despite the fact that it was the Hulu team that dropped the ball. We have re-posted all of the episodes in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down two weeks from today. The episodes will be taken down on January 25, 2009. Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that. We hope that the additional two weeks of availability will help to address some of the frustration that was felt over the past few days.

The team at Hulu is doing our best to make lemonade out of lemons on this one, but it’s not easy given how poorly we executed here. Please know that we will do our best to learn from this mistake such that the Hulu user experience benefits in other ways down the road.

Sincerely,

Jason Kilar, CEO, Hulu

Excellent. Make a mistake, acknowledge and own up to it, and then tell me how you’re giong to fix it. Brilliant, and yes, I will absolutely continue to return and watch your ads. Gladly. Keep up the great work, Hulu. Imagine if more companies were this open and honest with their customers.

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