When Hulu first announced that they would be launching a paid Hulu Plus service it wasn’t clear whether or not viewers would be interested or willing to pay. But since the official launch last year the company has seen massive growth and sources are saying that 2011 could be their biggest year yet with an increase in revenue of nearly 100 percent.
According to Adweek, Hulu is set for meteoric growth in 2011. They write that “Hulu is on pace to haul in half a billion dollars in ad revenue in 2011, according to CEO Jason Kilar.” A half a billion dollar year would be almost a 100 percent increase from the revenue the company made in 2010. At the end of last year they weighed in at $263 million. Kilar announced the prediction at an annual meeting of the Interactive Advertising Bureau on Monday, February 28. He also revealed that Hulu now has 250 different content partners and 627 advertisers on the site. That is a huge increase from the two content partners and dozen advertisers the site had when it originally launched.
But what does this huge increase in ad revenue mean for viewers? Does it mean that we can look forward to being exposed to even more ads? Hopefully not. More ads doesn’t seem to fit into CEO Jason Kilar’s “vision”. In a Hulu blog post back in the beginning of February he wrote, “Traditional TV has too many ads. Users have demonstrated that they will go to great lengths to avoid the advertising load that traditional TV places upon them.” That being said, I don’t think the video site would become more like “traditional TV” by increasing their advertising. Hulu is known for making their advertising as non-invasive as possible, giving viewers the option to skip ads, watch all the ads at the beginning of a video rather than interspersed, and even using fun interactive video advertising technology.
The other question is, how will the networks and distributors effect Hulu’s success in 2011? Hulu already had some hard times last year when a number of shows and episodes, including episodes of Modern Family suddenly disappeared from their library. The networks are hesitant to let services like Hulu and Netflix take too much of their content because it will lead to less consumers actually watching their content on television and through their own online streaming services. Hulu has no control over the changes of rights and licensing for the shows that they provide, and a major change could definitely upset their paying customers.
That being said, I think it will definitely be interesting to see whether Hulu reaches Kilar’s predictions of a half a billion dollar year in 2011. Do you think they will?