Hulu, as far as I’m concerned, is in trouble. Their Hulu Plus service, which costs $7.99, is overpriced and still shows a ridiculous amount of ads and a limited amount of content. Their partners (and part-owners) like NBCU are making content deals outside of the family (most recently with NetFlix over next-day SNL streaming) and it seems they pushed their IPO plans to next year after stating quite clearly it was very possible this year. With all that though, comes change.
What sort of change? Well the IPO has slid squarely into 2011 or perhaps beyond if they don’t prove their business plan can succeed. CEO Jason Kilar said they’ll bring in about $240 million in ad revenue. Of course when you show 50 ads per user, that’s almost a given. That is over twice what they pulled in on ads last year ($108M), they’re also showing twice as many ads or more now.
Now Hulu says they are looking to broaden their horizons and expand into the international market. Which market? Well, they’re mum on that bit yet. If I had to take a stab at it, I would guess Canada, the UK and Australia will be first, no localization really required there. Plus, NetFlix just stepped over the border into Canada, so it seems like the Granite Shield could heat up with an online video war. The streets will run brown with syrup, eh! (you know, like red with blood? syrup comes from maple…) Oh, Jason Kilar did say that Japan was an option as well.
Anyway, The Wall Street Journal, who has some charmed access to Hulu I imagine since NewsCorp owns WSJ and a stake in Hulu is reporting on the international flavor or Hulu’s future. I’m really just here to poke fun and inform (at Hulu not WSJ, they do great work).
In regards to Hulu Plus and ads, Kilar said ads are there to stay in order to subsidize the subscription. Hey, I think your partners are ripping you off man! If you are pulling in $240M in ad rev and still need to show ads to people who pay for your service, you’re paying way too much for your content methinks!
The WSJ also talked to Mr. Kilar about the IPO to wit he said, “We are fortunate to have a lot of options in front of us.” Lots of options… dissolution, bankruptcy, acquisition (by NetFlix of course).
Seriously, with $240M in ad revenue it seems like they have enough capital to continue operations. I still think they need to take a look at NetFlix and find out what makes them so successful (also $7.99 for streaming only, but with a far wider selection of content).
Finally, I just wish someone would offer shows in English out here in the rest of the world for a reasonable price. It would really make life much easier on us, the 6.6M plus Americans living abroad as well as everyone else who wants the shows in original form. Hell, I might even be willing to pay $5 and watch ads now that says something.