Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu's Progress Report Hasn't Progressed

In a new blog post, Hulu says it will generate about $500 million in revenue this year, and enroll more than 1 million subscribers for its Hulu Plus premium service.

Does that sound familiar? If you’re a fan of Hulu blog posts, it might: The video service announced the same numbers two months ago.

Then: “We expect to approach half a billion in total revenues (advertising and subscription combined) in 2011, up from $263 million in 2010, which was up from $108 million in 2009.”

Now: “We are on pace to approach half a billion dollars in revenue in 2011. In Q1, our revenue grew approximately 90 percent over Q1 2010. (Hulu did $263 million in revenue for all of 2010).”

Then: “Our subscriber count will pass 1 million this year, to our knowledge the fastest start of any online video subscription service. In the fall, we expect Hulu Plus as a business will have a revenue run rate north of $200 million.”

Now: “We are on track to exceed 1 million Hulu Plus subscribers in 2011 (up from 0 in 2010). To our knowledge, this is the fastest start of any online video subscription service.”

Then again, if you’re the kind of person who reads Hulu blog posts, you’ll recall that the most striking thing about Hulu’s February blog post was that CEO Jason Kilar used it to complain about the way his owners–Comcast’s NBC, Disney’s ABC, and News Corp.’s Fox–ran their businesses. (News Corp. also owns this Web site.)

Much of what Kilar said made lots of sense, but the fact that he said it in public didn’t go over well with his network owners. So lots of folks assumed the post was the beginning of Kilar’s end.

Two months later, though, Kilar is still running the video site. And since the metrics he boasted about earlier this year were overwhelmed by the words that surrounded them, it seems fair enough to give them a second viewing.

(And yes, CBS is the only big broadcaster that isn’t part of Hulu. But the site’s search function will send you to CBS’ clips, which is nice of them.)


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work