Hulu is quickly taking over the market for online streaming television, and the company may be ready to test its importance by going public. An initial public offering (IPO) is said to be in the works, and the company may end up valued at around $2 billion. The move could happen as early as this fall.
Hulu is partially owned by News Corp, Disney, and NBC. The comany has seen small, but steady profits as of late, $100 million last year. This makes the possibility of a $2 billion valuation confusing. Analysts are cautious citing the weak IPO market. Hulu's saving grace could be the high volume of ads thy serve, 566 million in June. Investors may also see hope in Hulu's new $9.99 Hulu Plus service.Will you be snapping up Hulu stock in the event of an IPO?
As if people needed another excuse to use Facebook, UK's Channel Five has decided to use the social networking site as a content delivery platform. According to a NewMediaAge report, Five is close to becoming the first broadcaster to show programs on Facebook. “All systems go” is how NMA's sources described the deal between Five and Facebook. They also revealed that Five will begin delivering TV content through Facebook “within the next week to ten days.” The TV shows will be delivered by embedding Demand Five, Five's TV-on-demand player, into Facebook. UK's Facebook population stands at 26 million.
Many felt some disappointment in learning that Hulu's $10 a month premium service would still show ads to users. Those individuals may have reason for hope today as Hulu's CEO, Jason Kilar, has said that an ad-free version of the service is a possibility. While nothing is official, Kilar seemed sympathetic to customer concerns.
Hulu is offering an increased selection of video, and access from other devices to justify the $10 fee. Kilar pointed out to NewTeeVee that there are many business models for online video distribution. It did seem clear, however, that any ad-free Hulu would cost more than the current $10 subscription. So we have to wonder, would you pay more to ditch the ads? We're a little skeptical many people would go for it.
On the PC side, users have been able to enjoy support for Blu-Ray movie playback for quite awhile now. However, Apple has been reluctant to add in similar capabilities on the OSX side of things. A user recently emailed Steve Jobs, and as he tends to do these days, he sent out a curt response predicting the death of the format.
The question centered around the new Mac Mini, and how it sure would be cool if it had a Blu-Ray drive. Jobs responded saying that, "Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD - like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats." In a later response, Jobs also claimed that streaming 720p content would win most people over.
It seems extremely likely that physical media will fade into the background at some point, but this may not be the time. With ISPs instituting bandwidth caps, streaming HD video could be more risky as the quality improves. Apple's iTunes store has sway over the content delivery arena, but can Apple really kill Blu-Ray by sheer force of will?
After months of speculation, Hulu has finally revealed their premium paid service, called Hulu Plus. Users will pay $9.99 per month for the privilege to access additional content not available on the free version. Subscribers to the new service will also be able to enjoy content on a number of new devices like iPads, iPhones, and Blu-Ray players. Support for the PS3 is expected sometime in July, and the Xbox will get a Live Gold tie in early in 2011.
It's unclear if users will respond positively to this new pay model. Hulu was created to discourage illegal distribution of content. Adding a pay wall could just drive users back to old habits. That being said, the regular Hulu isn't going away. The big difference will be the full seasons of programs on the Plus service. The free Hulu only offers a few episodes of popular shows. Items from the back catalog will also be made available on Hulu Plus. Depending on the platform, some content will be available in 720p.
We're a little concerned that it is being escribed as an "ad-supported subscription product". It looks like the fee won't get rid of the ads. For the time being, the service is invitation only. You can sign up here to request access. Is this something you'd pay for? If not, what is still missing for you?
We've been hearing rumors that a paid Hulu service could be coming to the Xbox 360 for some time now, but now it looks like Sony could be wrangling a deal as well. The service would be offered through the Playstation Network to PS3 owners. Sources are saying that the deal could be announced as early as next week. Of course, both companies are staying tight lipped about a possible deal for now.
If Hulu intends to build a strong business on a paid subscription model, getting on game consoles is a must. Customers will want to get Hulu on their TVs, not just their PCs. As such, game consoles are a perfect method of delivery. There was originally concern that Microsoft would be able to lock Hulu into an exclusive partnership to provide content to the Xbox 360. We Hope this new round of rumors pan out and we see Hulu on multiple gaming platforms.
A price being floated is around $10 per month, but we don't know what sort of features it would include. We'll just have to wait and see what devices we will be able to get Hulu on, but our fingers are crossed that the answer is 'a lot'.
Some new numbers for analytics firm comScore have more or less revealed what you have been doing when you're supposed to be working. According to the new stats, YouTube had a record 14.6 billion video views in the month of May. Overall, 183 million US internet users watched at least one online video during that same period. How do you people get anything done?
What's really intriguing here is that the total number of online video views comScore is reporting is just short of 34 billion. Therefore, YouTube had 43% of all online video views last month. The next service in the ranking was Hulu with a measly 1.2 billion videos. Both sites are up a bit from April.
Google specifically sees users watching an average of 101.2 videos per month. The nearest competitor is Yahoo's sites with only 7.3 videos per user each month. Clearly YouTube is a juggernaut in this space. Is there a video streaming site you prefer to use instead of YouTube?
Popular video streaming service Hulu is rumored to be talking to both Time Warner and CBS about adding additional content to a possible paid version of the site. The details aren't yet available, but sources say the new content would roll out behind a pay wall of some sort starting in September.
If Hulu could tempt CBS, it would be a major coup for the company. They already have support from Fox, NBC, and ABC. Adding the fourth major TV studio could be a selling point for many consumers. If the September date does hold up, the timing seems perfect for a new season of TV to be available online. We could also see the rollout of the Xbox 360 and iPad Hulu apps at that time. It would make sense for Hulu to make the biggest splash possible when the pay service finally opens up.
It's not clear what benefits a paid Hulu account would provide. What sort of features would you need to see before paying up?
Citing un-named sources "with knowledge on the matter," Reuters is reporting that Hulu is busy developing a subscription service that it plans to roll out on several devices in the next month or two.
At least one of those devices will be Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console, which already features Netflix streaming, while one of the other sources said you can expect Hulu to release a version for Apple's iPad. Naturally, none of the companies supposedly involved had any comment.
While nothing has been confirmed, a move like this would hardly be surprising. It has been speculated for some time that Hulu would look to a subscription based model of some sort, though it remains to be seen how well something like this will be received.
"Many consumers already pay $100 or more monthly for TV, telephony, and high-speed Internet access and are unlikely to welcome an incremental fee merely to watch from the Internet some of the programs they already get," said Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media.
Not everyone share's Leigh's opinion, however.
"Many viewers are not going home to watch TV anymore. They've already been trained to believe TV is coming to them and demand is growing for this content in different forms and different business models," said Mike Vorhaus of media consultancy Frank N. Magid.
Would you pay for Hulu if it was integrated seamlessly into your Xbox 360, iPad, or other Internet-connected device?
Hulu is constantly updating their Flash-based video player, but one change they don't plan on making is the addition of an HTML5 video option. The company's VP of products Eugene Wei said in a blog post that, "[HTML5] doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs." He lists a number of reasons for this, many of which point to the callous side of the streaming business. Wei notes that the Hulu player must secure content, serve ads, and control bandwidth.
HTML5 video is seen as the next step beyond Flash by many. It would use a tag to describe a video element to the browser, which then decodes the video directly. This necessarily means the video is more accessible to the end user, making it easier to copy. This is one of the reasons Hulu feels HTML5 isn't for them. Add to that the inability of HTML5 as it stands to serve ads within content, and you can see why Hulu is sticking with Flash.
This course of action will keep devices like the iPad from playing Hulu content for the time being. Though, possible mobile apps could get around that. In fact, that would jive nicely with Hulu's rumored pay model. Do you feel like HTML5 is the future, or will issues like this hold it back?