Hulu rebounds, closing year at $1BN in revenue

Michelle Clancy | 19-12-2013

Hulu is set to break the $1 billion mark in revenue this year. That's the word from new CEO Mike Hopkins, who recapped the online TV company's performance markers, giving this as the defining statement: "When you think about the fact that Hulu first launched out of beta in 2008, it's quite an impressive feat to scale the business from zero to $1 billion over the course of just six years."

Not too shabby for a company that has tried to sell itself twice without getting the bids that it wanted.

After the departure of founding CEO Jason Kilar and a failed sale earlier in the year, it was clear that Hulu was foundering for a purpose. After its owners Comcast-NBCUniversal, FOX and Disney pumped $750 million into the company over the summer, it looked set to grow as an independent company.

Next year will bring more of the same: "As we scale the business in 2014, we will continue to invest in content, technology and people," Hopkins said. "2014 will bring even more opportunity as we find new ways to grow the business from the strong foundation we have built."

One of the keys to its revenue growth is the fact that in 2013, the site's roster of advertisers expanded to more than 1,000 brands a 15% increase over last year. It was also a record year for consumption as Hulu viewers streamed more than one billion content videos in each quarter, and stayed with the service for approximately 50 minutes per session in Q4.

Also, Hulu Plus, the company's premium subscription arm, reached five million subscribers earlier in the year. Hopkins laid out some interesting statistics for Hulu Plus. Roughly 50% of those subscribers are now streaming exclusively on devices, with living room viewing accounting for over half of all content consumption on the service. Hulu Plus is now accessible on more than 400 million Internet connected devices in the US.

"We ... provided a refreshed and redesigned Hulu Plus experience on Apple TV, iPad, and millions of Samsung, Roku and Wii devices," Hopkins said. "It is our goal to provide the best user experience possible on every device, so consumers can take their favourite TV shows with them on-the-go."

He also said that Hulu will continue to invest in content. In 2013, it grew the Hulu and Hulu Plus offerings to include premium programming from more than 488 content partners, providing more than 86,000 TV episodes, 2,900 TV series and 68,000 hours of video. It also launched more than 20 Hulu Originals in 2013, and Hopkins said that he plans to double that number over the next few years.