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Hulu coming to the iPad?

Popular (US-only, grumble) television site Hulu is a name that comes up in just about every conversation about the iPad's lack of Flash support. Second only to YouTube's popularity, Hulu streams TV shows from several US networks, allowing for free (albeit ad-supported) access to shows that Apple's iTunes Store charges $1.99 and up to download. When people bash the iPad and claim "No Flash, no sale," a lot of them are probably really saying, "No Hulu, no sale."

All that could be about to change. According to TechCrunch, an "industry insider" has revealed that Hulu is already working on an iPad version of its site which should be ready to launch by the time the iPad is released in March. Whether this will take the form of a dedicated app or a "mobile version" of the site coded in HTML5 rather than Flash remains to be seen. TechCrunch notes that "putting Hulu on the iPad boils down to a business decision, not a technical one." Unlike YouTube, which had to re-encode a large portion of its videos for iPhone compatibility back in 2007, Hulu's videos are already encoded in the iPhone/iPad-friendly H.264 video format. The only Flash-encoded portions of Hulu that would have to change for iPad compatibility are the player itself (the "wrapper" for the video with its controls) and the ads.

Nothing official has been announced yet, of course, but Hulu's CEO has said that "Mobile is a monster – we are very bullish. We will embrace any device," and "We are very big believers in mobile and we don't think about (just) one device only." Considering that YouTube has been available on the iPhone from day one, it seems less a question of if Hulu will be available on the iPhone/iPad, but when. When that happens, a lot of that "no Flash, no sale" bias against the iPad is sure to die off very quickly.

[Via MacRumors]

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