Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Has Fewer Eyeballs, More Room for Advertisers

We’ve already noted that Hulu’s audience seems to have tailed off. Now it seems as if its advertisers are less interested in the site, too.

In a roundup story about the state of online advertising, The Wall Street Journal notes that the video Web site says revenue is still increasing. But Hulu, owned by GE’s (GE) NBC and Fox, owned by News Corp. (NWS) (which also owns this Web site), no longer claims to be “sold out”:

Hulu…says its overall revenue is growing month to month, and that revenue per minute of video watched grew in November from October. But while advertising on the site was sold out as recently as August, it is no longer.

‘Clearly the environment today is different than it was four months ago,’ says Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar, adding that the venture ‘will be ahead of plan for 2008.'”

Hulu’s previous claims about being “sold out” were always a bit head-scratching for people who used the site with any frequency: Sure, you were likely to see an ad (good bet: It was from Esurance) when you first loaded up a “Saturday Night Live” clip. But the more video you watched, the more likely you were to see freebie public service announcements from the Ad Council.

It’s hard to get worked up over this development. That’s partly because the notion of any Web site being “sold out” is a bit of a theoretical construct: The more people who visit the site, the more inventory it has to sell to advertisers–if the publisher wants to sell it.

And it’s also hard to read much into this because the Web video ad market has become a total crap shoot. Hulu says sales for the fourth quarter are still up over last year, and online execs at CBS (CBS) and at Disney’s (DIS) ABC say the same thing. But they have little idea what to expect for next year. Which makes them just like everyone else selling online ads.

Meanwhile, here’s a Hulu clip featuring the final “Saturday Night Live” appearance from the excellent Amy Poehler, who left the cast after last weekend’s show. She’s getting ready to launch her own NBC sitcom:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald