Depending on where you read the coverage of Hulu’s revenue numbers, the picture of the company looks very different. Read Write Web declares that the company turned in a “pretty big year,” growing 60 percent and “raking” in $420 million in revenue. But as Peter Kafka points out at All Things D, that falls short of the $500 million Hulu CEO Jason Kilar predicted the company would make in several blog posts.
Mr. Kafka attributes the miss to rumors of soft ad sales which have been percolating for a while. Hulu also was on the chopping block for a while, then off again, then back on. And several of its partners, most notably Fox, either took away next day rights for programming or discussed the idea. All that volatility is sure to make it tough for Hulu to sell ads.
2011 promises to be a fascinating year in web TV, with Google poised to launch its professional “channels” and Netflix its original web series. Hulu’s parents, the major TV networks, have made it impossible for the service to expand to platforms like Boxee and Google TV. Even Apple TV, normally a safe space for corporate greed, has apparently been held up for political reasons.
After basically trying to get himself fired in a Jerry Macguire style blog post about the future of TV, CEO Jason Kilar seems to have calmed down. He is no longer firing off bombs about how, ““History has shown that incumbents tend to fight trends that challenge established ways and, in the process, lose focus on what matters most: customers.” Hulu has a nice mix of revenue streams from its premium subscribers and its high end digital advertising. After watching Google TV flop in its first year and Netflix take a nosedive with it Qwikster fiasco, Mr. Kilar may feel like Hulu and its 60 percent growth is a pretty good place to be. So good in fact, that despite not making $500 million this year, he’s going to spend that much on content in 2012.