Hulu put out some year end numbers which included the fact they’ve got 1.5 million paying subscribers now. Not quite the massive, rapid expansion Netflix had, but they also have DVD rentals as well so it’s apples and oranges.

1.5 million means that they’re growing around 400K new subscriptions per quarter. But I think that 2012 will be a burst growth year for them, later in the year anyway when all of these connected TVs hit the market and people start snapping them up to replace their old ones. Screen convergence is really what is going to help Hulu continue to grow. Even I don’t watch Hulu on my display anymore, I use the living room Optoma projector (which is connected to the PC, cable box and game consoles) or the Microvision pico projector attached to the netbook in the bedroom. Sure, I’m still watching on the PC, but it’s because I’m more tech savvy than the standard consumer and I don’t feel the need to get a connected TV because of that.

Hulu stated that revenues are also on the up and up to a nice $420 million for the year which shows some impressive growth. Probably based on all the ads they show even though you’re paying for the content. That is one of two reasons for my putting my account on hiatus for six weeks. I can see less ads with Time Warner on-demand at times than I do with Hulu, except for FOX content which doesn’t allow fast forwarding and shows full ad loads against their on-demand stuff.

That revenue number represents a 60% boost over 2010, but at the same time, paying subscribers have grown fivefold.

They also boosted the available content some 40% as well. So on top of far more subscribers, they’ve got far more content to be watched, Hulu Plus content alone grew 105%.

But the real question is, since most of the content is also available on-demand on the cable channels, is Hulu Plus worth the cost? We’re not quite at a point where we can completely cut the cord, though I would absolutely love to and think that 2012 will see it done. We still need cable for things like sports and premium content from HBO, and other channels who fail to see the value in a digital-only subscription option. Again, there was nothing really new for me to watch on Hulu Plus, so that’s part of why mine is on hold at the moment, but as I start doing more travel for various reasons this year, I’m sure I’ll start it back up to stay on top of the shows I watch.

That’s the true value of Hulu Plus really, it’s not about getting the same content you have at home, it’s about getting the same content you have at home… when you’re not at home and then, it’s worth the subscription price, usually.

Some other year end numbers from Hulu:

  • Accessible on over 200 million devices including the Microsoft Xbox 360, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble’s NOOK Tablet, select Android smartphones, LG, Panasonic and VIZIO TVs and Blu-ray players.
  • Have now served over 1,000 brand advertisers (yet I still only see Geico ads when I don’t even have a car! Their ad tailor program is distressingly inefficient).

Here’s what Jason Kilar, Hulu CEO, had to say about the outlook for this year:

 As just one example, our dual revenue stream Hulu Plus business model enables us to compensate content owners much more than anyone else in the online subscription market on a per subscriber basis. At scale, our model allows us to profitably pay content owners approximately 50% more in content licensing fees per subscriber when compared to other similarly priced online subscription services. 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. To that end, we are excited to invest approximately half a billion in content in 2012 on behalf of our users.

Great, now do something about the number of ads on Hulu Plus because it’s borderline annoying already and if you’re planning on raising the average number of ads per video for Plus members, I’m planning on dropping. Also, work on expanding the licenses because there are so many things I run into that say “Only available on computer.” What’s the bloody point of having an Xbox 360 app if I can’t watch 1/3 of the content I want to on it.