This year has been a very good one for video streaming site Hulu. What started out as a niche product for the more tech-savvy, has broken through into the mainstream community. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a blog post that Hulu has over 43 million unique visitors. That’s a 95% increase over one year ago. As the number of visitors goes up, the number of streams goes up even faster, having nearly tripled since April. The ad campaign that kicked off during the Superbowl likely started the ball rolling.
The overall amount of content on Hulu has also increased dramatically, going from 5600 hours of premium content, to over 14,000 hours. All those programs are being bought up by even more advertisers as well. Hulu has gone from 166 advertisers up to 408.
Also of note is the launch of the Hulu desktop application this year. After a long battle with Boxee, Hulu at least gave users an alternative way to view content. With all the good news, it’s easy to forget the rumors swirling around about internal battles between content owners and those running Hulu. And let’s not forget the possible pay model we’ve been hearing about. Hopefully, Hulu can get all this worked out while still preserving the good will they currently enjoy.
It’s an interesting idea, if it pans out. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that CBS and Disney are in discussions with Apple about participating in Apple’s future plans to offer subscription TV through iTunes. If the deal consummates, shows from CBS’s parent network and CW, and Disney’s ABC, Disney Channel, and ABC Family networks would be available.
The deal, according to the Journal, involves Apple paying content providers $2 to $4 per subscriber per month for a broadcast network, and $1 to $2 per month per subscriber per month for a basic-cable network. The monthly cost for a subscriber is estimated at $30 to $40, and access would be to all available network content.
Apple’s concept could morph into something wanted by many cable subscribers: the chance to choose the networks they want, rather than having to buy a fixed bundle (which includes a lot of networks they don’t want). Such flexibility would certainly be welcome.
This aspect of the deal, however, might serve to limit its potential. CBS has a cozy relationship with Viacom, and NBC was just purchased by Comcast. It’s unlikely they’d be willing to enter into a venture that might undermine these concerns. (Disney’s another matter, as Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, is Disney’s largest single shareholder.)
If all the ducks fall into a row, Apple’s new service should be available sometime in 2010.