Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Is Still Free, and Bigger than Ever. Next Year, Though…

Given that Hulu is about to start tinkering with paywalls and subscriptions, its viewership numbers matter a bit less than they used to. But for the record, the site–co-owned by News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox, GE’s (GE) NBC Universal and Disney’s (DIS) ABC–had a record October.

ComScore (SCOR) says Hulu generated 856 million video views during the month, second only to Google’s (GOOG) YouTube in the U.S. This makes sense given that Hulu is driven in large part by broadcast TV, which starts running new shows in the fall.

And if Hulu didn’t post record numbers after adding ABC’s shows to the mix, there would be some real head-scratching. But it will be very interesting to see what happens to these numbers next year if Hulu does move ahead with some sort of pay service.

comscore views

As always, note the huge disparity between YouTube and everyone else. And it’s also worth noting that while Hulu generates more views than any of its non-YouTube competitors, its reach isn’t quite as deep:

comscore audience

All of which is less relevant than the joint venture’s performance, which is still the subject of much debate. People familiar with Hulu tell me it is “close to break-even,” but I worry about putting much stock in words like “close” (or “break-even,” for that matter) without seeing numbers.

And in any case, that’s only half the issue for its owners these days; just as important are the performance of its parent companies and whether all the free stuff on Hulu is helping or hindering their networks and studios.

But more on that after the holiday. For now, here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”