Mar 26 2013

News - Hulu Possibly Up for Sale Again

Hulu for saleHulu's board spent a good chunk of 2011 shopping the company around to potential buyers. In the end, the company gave up the effort, but evidently Hulu's investors have started to feel the itch to sell again. It sounds like the board is approaching a potential sale in much the same way they did last time, quietly talking to potential suitors to guage interest before going public with their intentions. Unfortunately, the same problems might be plauging the board's efforts, in particular concerns about the length of contracts securing content for Hulu and dysfunctional investors who can't decide whether they are comfortable selling the company to each other lest they give a potent future weapon to a competitor. Hulu has shown steady subscriber growth and certainly commands significant mindshare, but has failed to make the transition to a must-need service like Netflix.

The board sounded out several possible buyers as part of an internal strategic review begun recently, but it has not received a formal offer, one of the sources said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.


Jul 25 2012

News - Hulu Web Video Player Gets Overhaul

 Hulu Chromeless Player

These days, it seems like the only time we hear from Hulu is when they are announcing some new content deal or when Hulu Plus comes to a new device, but Hulu isn't giving their website visitors short shrift as evidenced by the freshly overhauled video player that the company has recently launched. The sleek new video player strips away all of the old player's chrome and brings up the player controls, media details, and access to the player settings and Hulu features such as Face Match as an overlay. The new player also adds an option for auto-adjusting the video quality and a 10-second rewind held in cache. Given how often I find myself wanting to skip back and review a missed line, this sort of scrubless video rewind is something I would love to see come to more online video players.

The new player groups all of a video’s settings — facial recognition, closed captioning, and the like — all in one place, and the player automatically detects and adjusts video quality based on the available bandwidth. And when you pause a video, the player highlights program and episode information, along with how much time is left in the show or movie you’re watching.


Jul 18 2012

News - Hulu and Ora TV Debut "Larry King Now"

Larry King is back on the air with the help of Ora TV and Hulu. Ora TV is a new company that bills itself as an on-demand digital television network, and for their first show, the fedgling network has teamed with an industry heavyweight in Larry King. Larry King's new show, Larry King Now, is an interview program similar to his Larry King Live show on CNN, but instead of broadcasting on a major cable network, Larry King Now is being broadcast on Hulu. The show can also be viewed at Ora TV's website via a Hulu embed. Hulu has long been one of the best places online for accessing traditional network programming and the company has been working diligently on building out its portfolio of original content, but the debut of Larry King Now represents arguably the most high-profile example of Hulu's efforts to serve as a central distribution point for the new breed of online networks.

Larry King Now

Episodes will air Monday through Thursday each week and, according to the host, the new show provides a good deal more freedom than his previous program on CNN. "There are almost no constrictions on the Internet," he says. "Although I'm not gonna curse." 

The Verge

Mar 13 2012

News - Hulu to Distribute Original Content Worldwide with FremantleMedia

Hulu and FremantleMedia

Television shows can be profitable based on ad sales during an initial run if the ratings are high enough, but the real long-term value is in distribution and syndication, selling the rights to replay a show on another network and in other markets. Tapping into this revenue stream is the primary reason so many cable networks have raced to join the traditional broadcast networks in developing original programming. For streaming networks like Netflix and Hulu, launching original programming has been seen as a means of establishing an exclusive and differentiating feature for attracting subscribers, but Hulu is demonstrating that they are also looking at distribution as a means of leveraging the value of their original programming. Hulu has inked a deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises that gives FremantleMedia a first look option on Hulu's original shows for distribution worldwide, with the exception of the US and Japan where Hulu is currently active. The first show that FremantleMedia is taking global is A Day in the Life, Morgan Spurlock's documentary series. Is it just me, or is this a classic snake-eats-tail story? Television networks establish Hulu to stream their shows. Hulu creates their own shows for streaming. Hulu's original shows are distributed to television networks.

Our role as a producer of great original TV programming takes a big step forward today.  We are proud to announce our partnership with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) on a major new first look deal which provides FME international distribution rights to Hulu’s original commission programming. FME is the name behind some of the most watched TV programs in the world, and this deal marks the first time a distributor has signed such an agreement with an online video service. FME can now distribute Hulu original series globally across platforms, including traditional media.

Hulu Blog

Feb 17 2012

News - Hulu Plus App for Nintendo Wii Now Available

Hulu Plus subscribers can finally get their waggle on. The Nintendo Wii has added Hulu Plus to its list of downloadable apps in the Wii Shop Channel. There will also be a version of the Hulu Plus app for the Nintendo 3DS before the end of the year. Now, please note that I am quite aware that Nintendo does not consider the Wii a media consumption device, but it has been over a year since the Netflix app came to the Wii, and that's without adding in the six months of Netflix on the Wii via disc. Here's hoping that Nintendo has a better media streaming story to tell with the Wii U.

Hulu Plus on Wii

Bored with experiencing Hulu Plus through the same old ... interfaces? Get rid of that Hulu Plus ennui with Hulu Plus on Wii. Nintendo announced that the service is now available through the Wii in the US as of today.


Feb 15 2012

News - Hulu Premieres "Battleground", Netflix Preps "Orange is the New Black"

Battleground and Orange is the New Black

It's been a busy month for streaming media fans looking for something new. Netflix launched their first original series, Lilyhammer, earlier this month, and this week Hulu premiered their first original scripted show, Battleground. While Netflix dropped the entire first season of Lilyhammer at one time, Hulu likes to parcel its shows out gradually. New episodes of Battleground will be available on Hulu and Hulu Plus every Tuesday for its entire 13 episode run.

Hulu launched its first original scripted series Battleground Monday night, just one week after Netflix started its foray into original programming with Lilyhammer.


Even as Lilyhammer and Battleground face-off, Netflix is reportedly moving ahead with another new series. Netflix is expected to announce that it has ordered 13 episodes of its own comedy, Orange is the New Black. Although Netflix does have some other original content coming down the pipe, this will be only the second series after Lilyhammer to be completely financed by Netflix. Both companies are betting big on original content going forward. Early reviews on Lilyhammer and Battleground have generally been quick to pounce on the idea that HBO and Showtime don't have much to worry about. Just keep in mind that early HBO shows such as Tanner '88 and Dream On weren't exactly greeted as the second coming of television either.

The company has ordered 13 episodes of Orange is the New Black, a comedy from Jenji Kohan, the creator of Showtimes’s Weeds. The show is based on the memoir of a communications exec who served time for drug charges in a women’s prison.


**This article has been amended. "Lilyhammer" was produced by Rubicon TV AS for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Netflix financed part of the production.**

Jan 18 2012

News - Hulu Moving into Original Content

We've been watching with interest as Netflix moves into the world of original programming. Their first show, Lillyhammer, shows promise and with fan-favorite Arrested Development and the David Fincher-produced House of Cards on the horizon, Netflix is looking to make a big splash. However Netflix isn't the only streaming service looking to capitalize on original content to drive subscriptions. Hulu has been quietly moving into original content as well. First up was the reality series, If I Can Dream, followed by the daily mini talk show, The Morning After, and the documentary series, A Day in the Life. Now, Hulu has announced that they have two new shows due to premiere by summer. The first show, Battleground, will start in February and will mark Hulu's first scripted content program. Hulu is also planning a travelogue with Richard Linklater.


It will be interesting to watch both streaming services over the next year as they build on their strategies. Netflix has invested much more heavily in scripted content, while Hulu has chosen to dabble in the wider range of television genres. Scripted content tends to attract more attention, but Hulu's reality and documentary-style content is generally less expensive to produce. The two companies are also taking different distribution approaches with Hulu airing new episode of its programs each week, whereas Netflix is planning on making the entire run of its series available at one time.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the shows are well-funded and helmed by some formidable talent. "Battleground," which will run for 13 episodes beginning in February, is "a comedy about a dysfunctional Senate campaign". The other new series will be a travelogue from Richard Linklater, the director best known for his work on Dazed and Confused.


Jan 14 2012

News - Hulu Grows to 1.5M Paying Subscribers, Ready to Spend Big on Content

It would seem that Hulu is ready to celebrate the New Year by going shopping. In a recent blog post, Jason Kilar, Hulu's CEO, gave an update on the status of the company and how they performed over the last year. I personally have never seen the value proposition in paying for a media streaming service that includes commercials, but obviously some folks disagree given that Hulu has grown Hulu Plus to 1.5 million paid subscribers. That may not be the most impressive number with Netflix boasting 20 million subscribers, but it means that Hulu Plus wrapped up 2011 with about 5 times as many subscribers as the service had at the end of 2010.


The company credits the subscriber growth to their heavy investment in developing apps for mobile devices, consoles, and other devices. They also credit their heavy investment in content acquisition over the last year, the lion's share of which was dedicated to Hulu Plus. The end result of a growing subscriber base and better than expected ad revenue has been a 60% growth in revenue year over year to $420 million, which brings us back to the shopping. To ensure that Hulu and Hulu Plus continues to grow this year, Hulu will be devoting $500M to securing content over the next year. Any thoughts on what Hulu should try to add first?

 In 2011, we dramatically expanded the content available to Hulu and Hulu Plus customers. Hulu’s content offering grew approximately 40% vs 2010; Hulu Plus’ content offering grew more than 105%. Hulu Plus is the only online video subscription service that offers current season content from 5 of the 6 largest U.S. broadcast networks, with shows from The CW and Univision added this past quarter. In 2011, we added a long roster of great current series, including Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Misfits, Revenge, Terra Nova, Up All Night, New Girl, Una Familia Con Suerte, The Secret Circle, Hart of Dixie, Ringer, Community and many more.

Hulu Blog 

Oct 19 2011

News - Streaming Video Watched in 42 Million Homes

This comes as to no surprise that streaming media is on the rise. The actual number on the other has is pretty impressive. 42 Million Homes throughout the United States and Europe are using connected devices (Media Streamers, Connected TV's, Game Consoles) to stream TV, Movies and other video content.

One interesting thing to note is that Europeans prefer to connect a HTPC to theirs displays where as the US prefers game consoles more than any other connected device. Not sure how accurate that is, but still some interesting facts all together.

A new report from Strategy Analytics, Multiscreen Connected TV: Assessing Device Usage and Ownership, found that connected TV usage is twice as popular in the US as in Europe: 20 per cent of US respondents have watched internet content on their TV screens in the past month, compared to only 10 per cent of Europeans.

Broadband TV News

Oct 14 2011

News - Hulu Takes Down "For Sale" Sign, Google Still Circling

Hulu has been up for sale for months, but evidently the right suitor did not come calling to catch the eye of Hulu's investors. Amazon and DISH Network were rumored to be among the top bidders with bids in the neighborhood of $2 billion dollars, though Google was rumored to be floating a $4 billion dollar bid with a list of stipulations intended to guarantee extended access to certain content and release windows.


Hulu's investors issued a joint statement that Hulu was no longer for sale. Hulu has been touting its recent successes growing its business and been adding content partners and shows. It is quite likely that Hulu's investors are seeing an opportunity to build that offers more long-term returns than simply cashing out.

With the market to pay to stream movies and TV shows cooling, media companies may have decided they could no longer cash out their stakes in Hulu and continue to sell content for top dollar to buyers like Netflix and Amazon. It may have seemed more profitable for Hulu to try to add subscribers and sell more advertising over the long haul.

USA Today

All that being said, Google is reportedly still in the mix.

The source close to the process says that, despite the press release, what Hulu's parents have actually decided to do is no longer consider a sale of Hulu, the subscription service, and 2-years of rights.

Now they plan to fully consider Google's offer – or at least figure out some way to give Hulu management and Providence Equity Partners liquidity.


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