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Hulu's Commercial-Free Prime Time: I don't think I want to watch

If you’ve gone on Hulu this morning, you’ll have noticed the giant countdown clock for its “Commercial-Free Prime Time” this evening from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET. Aside from the fact that the “commercial-free” prime time is brought to you by McDonald’s (how’s that gonna work? the player window skinned in a giant Big Mac wrapper?), it also begs the question: Is Hulu trying to coax me into a box? Part of the reason I go to Hulu is because I like watching my favorite shows whenever the mood strikes. If I have a free half-hour on Saturday at noon, and I feel like watching 30 Rock, I watch 30 Rock. And for this total flexibility, I’ll gladly look at a quick commercial to get to the next segment. Really, it’s not a big deal. So why is Hulu pushing an old-school concept of “prime time” when their whole reason for being is whenever-time? Tonight’s experiment seems a bet that people hate commercials more than they desire flexibility. I just don’t buy it.

Check out the 30 Rock episode below (wait until 7 p.m. or you’ve totally wasted 8 seconds on an ad), and then let us know: Are commercials really so stifling to your life that you’ll be more likely to go to Hulu for this commercial-free thing? Is this Hulu making a play for regular TV viewers? Or for EW.com blog posts?

Originally posted May 8 2009 — 1:56 PM EDT

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