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Hulu Plus Tops 1.5 Subscribers

12 Jan, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Hulu Plus, the subscription video-on-demand unit of repurposed TV content aggregator Hulu, ended 2011 with more than 1.5 million subscribers and revenue of $420 million, CEO Jason Kilar disclosed in Jan. 12 blog post.

Kilar said Hulu, which is co-owned by News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and NBC Universal, saw revenue jump 60% from 2010.

“We exceeded our plan, despite the soft advertising market (economy) in the second half of 2011,” Kilar wrote. “Overall the Hulu ad business grew aggressively, and Hulu Plus materially exceeded our plan.”

The CEO said Hulu’s dual-revenue stream (ad-supported and subscription) allows it to compensate content owners 50% more in content licensing fees per subscriber, when compared with other similarly priced online subscription services. He said the site would invest $500 million license agreements in 2012.

The monetization is significant considering Hulu’s owners last year put the site up for sale, citing in part Hulu’s sluggish revenue and possible cannibalization of other more lucrative distribution channels. The exploding popularity of Netflix’s SVOD model led Hulu’s owners to reconsider the sale, which was terminated last fall.

“We believe our approach will enable us to secure more valuable content for our users and to secure content in more attractive windows than would otherwise be possible,” Kilar wrote.

Hulu Plus, which launched in Japan last year, now is accessible on select consumer electronics devices and mobile operating systems with a combined installed base of more than 200 million. Some of the new devices developed custom applications for the service include Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet, select Android smartphones, and LG, Panasonic and Vizio TVs and Blu-ray players.

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