Hulu Makes Good, But What About Others?

In the shifting TV landscape, Hulu has been a massive success story. Whether or not you consider its content library up to par, Hulu is making money in over-the-top video in a way that few others are. Today at NewTeeVee Live, CEO Jason Kilar announced that Hulu revenue will hit $240 million in 2010, up from $108 million last year, and 25 million in 2008. Keep in mind, this is with Hulu Plus barely off the ground, so advertising is bringing in a lot of that cash. That contrasts with Netflix, the other success story in OTT video, which has built its (considerable) fortunes on the subscription model. Hulu is moving in that direction, but has managed to make a go of its service even in its ad-supported incarnation.

Hulu of course is backed by major content companies, so if any organization were to succeed in the space, it’s not surprising that Hulu would be a frontrunner. However, Hulu has another thing going for it. Like Netflix, the company is not trying to change consumer behavior in one fell swoop. Hulu isn’t meant to replace cable. (Despite some arguments to the contrary.) It’s meant to be an add-on. And that means it can play along with pay-TV providers rather than fight against them.

Know who has been trying to fight directly against pay-TV providers? Sezmi, which is still a blip on the TV radar. And Zillion TV, which has now closed up shop and is reportedly shopping its assets to the highest bidder.

11 thoughts on “Hulu Makes Good, But What About Others?”

  1. There is a general sense of dislike on the net right now towards Hulu and their “Plus” program. People don’t want to pay a premium for programming that was previously available for free and now have ads as well.

    If their Plus program doesn’t change I think you’ll find they start to lose money.

  2. I tried it – and then cancelled it.

    The problems:
    – $10/mo
    – less content available on my iPhone than on my computer
    – less content available on my PS3

    So I looked at it and thought: I’m paying more for less. For $10/mo the only thing it should bring me is more shows. Previous seasons of popular shows, for example.

    As a default everything I see on on my computer should be available on my PS3 or iPhone. Where I watch it shouldn’t matter.

  3. I’m still paying… and they have added some new cable content recently. But, yeah, it’s discouraging (and potentially confusing) that what’s available on the PC is not the same as what’s available via mobile or TV.

  4. I’m a Sezmi subscriber in the Los Angeles area. With Sezmi there really is no need for Hulu Plus since 99% of their content is stuff you get from local channels. Cable channels on Sezmi are all SD but for only $20 a month I can’t complain;)

  5. Revenues? How about some profits?

    $240 million in a year isn’t that great either. Blu-ray sales are at $1 Billion for the first 9 months of these year and the last quarter is usually the best for discs.

    Netflix and other physical disc rentals? Yeah, they’re at $4.4 Billion so far this year.

  6. Ben, yeah same reaction. ABC made around $5B in 2009. $240M is a nice start, but its still just a start. A study I saw recently said that only about 5% of the US/EU population watches non-user-generated video online with regularity. Obviously that trend is going upwards, but its still very early.

  7. hulu’s temporary success won’t last long, so party like it’s 1999, keep pretending these good times will last forever.

  8. I was on Hulu Plus but canceled it as it was too expensive, and the one or two shows I watched a week I could easily watch in full HD on my DVR if just got off my butt and set the timers for them.

    If they lowered the price to $5 like was rumored I would consider it again, but $10 is too high.

  9. (1) It’s lame that $10/mo doesn’t allow you to skip ads.

    (2) If they had a way better catalog (incl. previous seasons, HD, etc.), maybe then it’d be worth it despite #1.

    Now that I got PS3, 360, TiVo Premiere, and Boxee Box, I think I’ll just subscribe to Netflix for streaming. Seems like a way better option for TV.

  10. Honestly one of the problems with all these streaming services is they have so FEW ads. I’m not talking about the number of ads played while I’m watching a show. That’s certainly high enough. Its that many of those ad breaks are filled with the same ads over and over again. On the ABC app for example I get to watch an ad for the Sex and the City 2 Movie on DVD about 5 times during the course of 1 22 minute show. Watch another different show? Same damn ad again and again. Not ABC/Hulu’s fault (unless their ad sales team is just lazy) but makes it way more irritating. Especially of course since I’m not in the right demographic for this movie in the first place–there’s is NO WAY you could convince me to see it. Play me some nice Windows Phone 7 ads or something and maybe it wouldn’t be so awful.

  11. Sezmi is a complete failure. It confusing and hard to use and add no value. Watch as they burn tens of millions in VC money and go under.

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