Hulu considering to rebrand as an online cable provider

Hulu may have reimagined television content on the Internet almost three years ago, but lately the video-on-demand website's business has not been doing as well as its owners would have liked. And now The Wallstreet Journal has learnt internal meetings have recently taken place to figure out new ways to make the company more profitable. 

Among the current concepts being pitched, making Hulu a live cable provider that would send television channels to the Internet along with the currently available video on demand content is not only the most radical but the most in sync with the ever-changing philosophy of TV viewers. Nielsen Media, the company behind counting television ratings, found that viewers aged 18 to 49 (the most important demographic in terms of advertising dollars) watching TV traditionally was down 1.3% in Fall 2010 from the same time in 2009. That was the biggest drop in nearly four years. Nielsen is also hoping to begin counting online views as ratings for TV shows starting this year, but only if the online version has the same amount of ads as its traditional TV counterpart. If Hulu doesn't find some solutions soon, the media companies are ready to start removing their content, or at least delaying posting new videos for two weeks.

Fox Broadcasting, owned by News Corp., and ABC, owned by Disney, are near ready to pull the plug on their ad-based, free content. Meanwhile, NBC Universal (NBCU) has been somewhat in a conflict of interest; when NBCU began negotiation a merger with Comcast (which recently was approved by the FCC) they had to let go of their management rights over Hulu, forcing them to also share their content with Hulu competitors, like Netflix.

Netflix, as it so happens, has been thriving amidst Hulu's apparent inadequacies. In accordance with that, last year, Hulu released Hulu Plus for $7.99 per month. Jason Kilar, CEO of Hulu, however, reportedly wanted to lower the cost to $4.99 to be more competitive. But Netflix has been more advantageous, the service is available on more devices than Hulu while also having more content. Albeit, that content is not as new as Hulu's but that could slowly change. Revenue for both Hulu and Netflix in 2010 was $260 million and $2.16 billion, respectively.

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All of the rumors about Hulu turning into a online cable provider is interesting but according to some information I received from Hulu's director of international business development, Hulu is still looking to launch its service in other countries.

This is what Simon Gallagher told me in a statement via emai:

"We are actively exploring opportunities to launch our service in multiple countries around the globe and due to the confidential nature of those discussions I am afraid we can't comment on individual markets."

Mr Gallagher is responsible for being the director of international business development at Hulu.

The above information confirms Hulu is still looking to launch its service outside of the U.S.

Countries that could get access to Hulu in the future could include the UK, Canada,Japan and Australia.

This info I got is not a rumor-but actual info from a member of Hulu's staff.

The rumors reported here haven't been confirmed or denied by them currently.

Perhaps if Hulu stopped blocking mobile devices, it would help a bit. As long as I can't watch Hulu on my Galaxy Tab or my Evo 4G, I'm not watching on my desktops or laptops either.

When I first heard of Hulu Plus I was excited.

For a total of 2 minutes until I found out they would keep stuffing me with commercials.

Go Netflix!

Hulu has an inherent problem -- they don't offer anywhere near exclusive access to their content. Netflix does... for the most part you can't just turn on the TV or go on-line & watch the same movies *for free*. The same can be said for Blockbuster, & to some degree, Amazon. You can't expect to make money putting a restaurant next door to a Micky D's, & charging twice the price for the same menu, & that's the situation Hulu's in. Making things harder, there's little or no reason for content owners not to just stream their content on their own, claiming 100% of any revenues, so Hulu has to sell to both content owners And potential customers, or like Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon etc., just pay for content. Of course if they do succeed in coming up with a profitable biz model, there's likely little or no reason others won't jump in the market as copycats -- e.g. how hard would it be for the cable companies to make their on-demand streaming available on-line given their existing infrastructure?

I'd rather them become a TV service, offering live feeds of national cable channels. Obviously some channels are more coveted than others (e.g. ESPN for ABC and Fox News for Fox), but I can't see why Fox or ABC wouldn't want to make their crappier channels more widely available. Channels like:
Fox Business News (Fox)
Disney XD (ABC/Disney)
SoapNet (ABC/Disney)

Or go the pay route and offer the standard big name channels at a fee per month...FX, ESPN, Fox News, Disney, etc.

Hey, I'd pay money each month if it gave me access to live widescreen tv streams of popular national tv channels.

Tokar said,
I'd rather them become a TV service, offering live feeds of national cable channels. Obviously some channels are more coveted than others (e.g. ESPN for ABC and Fox News for Fox), but I can't see why Fox or ABC wouldn't want to make their crappier channels more widely available. Channels like:
Fox Business News (Fox)
Disney XD (ABC/Disney)
SoapNet (ABC/Disney)

Or go the pay route and offer the standard big name channels at a fee per month...FX, ESPN, Fox News, Disney, etc.

Hey, I'd pay money each month if it gave me access to live widescreen tv streams of popular national tv channels.

+1 - I would pay $5.99 or even $9.99 for a HD feed of live streaming TV anywhere on any device. I would also expect at this point people from ANYWHERE could use the service and not just from the USA

Ruciz said,

+1 - I would pay $5.99 or even $9.99 for a HD feed of live streaming TV anywhere on any device. I would also expect at this point people from ANYWHERE could use the service and not just from the USA



Well-they are looking at opportunities to eventually make Hulu available in other countries according to Hulu's director of international business development.

Sigh, I miss four normal terrestrial TV channels, where it was a simple TV guide, you knew what was on BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel4, and you could plan and then enjoy sitting down to watch something, AND it would have the synopsis in print and maybe a review too of the programmes. And of course, on BBC 1 and BBC 2, NO ADVERTS, so you could REALLY enjoy a 40-odd minute star trek episode or the likes. I would HAPPILY watch commercial TV if there were LESS adverts - I would SERIOUSLY be more inclined to watch the shows AND the adverts! I think they worked out that if the BBC showed an ad once an hour, they would still make an absolute fortune.
QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.

Too many times I would use Hulu, click the show I wanted to watch and it would take me to another site to watch it, then there are the commercials, too many, too frequent plus there are a ton of choices much better organized than Hulu running fewer or no commercials.
Hulu's biggest problem, just too greedy.

Unfortunately with all the new bull-crap restrictions on a lot of shows coming out now, hulu is getting a bit pointless to even offer the free service anymore. I'm seeing lots of NBC universal shows with new availability notes as "First episode available day after it airs, subsequent episodes 30 days later. Are they seriously expecting people to wait a month just to watch a single episode that just aired on the telly which was not on my schedule :?

I used to use Hulu all the time when it first came out, but now I can't even remember the last time I used it to watch a show. It's probably been at least 6 months. Either I wanted to catch an older episode only to find out it was already removed, found out a show I was following wasn't on Hulu, or looked for a new episode and found out it wasn't available to watch yet. I never bothered to go back later, I just downloaded it instead, and after a while I just stopped going to Hulu ever. I even have their web-app installed and pinned to my taskbar, but I never click it.

thatguyandrew1992 said,

Would it really be more than normal TV? (i honestly don't know)

normal cable tv uses just as much data, but that bandwidth is accessible by every node connected, you just change channels. The only difference is the cable company pays for the data. With IPTV, the user pays for data, and for many people with limited data allowances such as in Australia, it makes IPTV prohibitive unless offered by the ISP as free content (doesn't count towards data usage).

ekw said,
internet tv would use wayyy too much data.

not really. 5 min @ 720p is around 100MB, so a 50min show is around 1GB. Most movies from Netflix in their 'HD' mode use around 2GB of data for the whole movie. say its 90 min long - you need a data connection roughly of 0.4MB/s, or roughly a full 5Mbit line.

The frequency spectrum basic cable TV uses is incredible, very large for no real reason. the USA went completely Digital/QAM TV and compresses that (like 15 channels in the space 1 used to be) The cable companies have no bandwidth to worry about - they have a whole spectrum to broadcast on. It is likely cheaper to setup a fast server if you are an ISP rather than modulate and broadcast - except all the gear to do that is already paid for and stuff to go IP based isn't.

what i meant is that the network traffic to support an online TV model is extraordinarily greater than cable TV.
Cable TV uses a send and forget protocol. They have no way of knowing (without additional hardware) how many people are listening.
On cable TV, if 100 people want to tune in on a live channel, it bears no effect on the network.
On online TV, if 100 people want to stream a live channel, thats significantly burdens the network; the provider would have to upload the same data to 100 different people, multiplying the size of that data by 100.


Personally I don't find Hulu (Plus) to be worth it compared to competing services like Netflix.

I mean sure if you want to catch up on a recent episode of a show you missed on tv, yeh the free version of hulu can't be beat. But say you want to watch a season, you'll need Hulu Plus for that..and that's like $8 a month, which is the same as Netflix Streaming. However, you still get ads every 10mins whereas netflix is ad free.

Not to mention their collection is nowhere near the size of Netflix's.

They hate Boxee which is trying to make a partnership. They are running Hulu like the RIAA. Making it a crime to use the site.

If they were smart they would embrace Boxee and other devices. CEO can't complain about Netflix when Hulu is stopping companies from adding Hulu to devices. Netflix is embracing these set top devices when Hulu is calling everyone a pirate then blocking them.

Shadrack said,
Honestly, I would be OK with more advertisement in online TV if it meant there was more content.

No No No No No No No No. We are advertised to death.

I just dropped my Comcast TV and rely strictly on antenna. I am trying to get our household TV viewing down and I really like being able to stream whatever I want to watch whenever I want to watch it. I hope that Hulu can get more content as I would look into paying for it. But for now I am happy with spending my "down time" doing something else. By the way I am in their demographic.

Hulu has some serious issues. They only post the 5 trailing episodes of a show, sometimes 8 days after the newest episode. The movie selection is awful. It needs to be on all devices. Hopefully if Hulu plus becomes GOOD, then they will make more money.

@Unix2 - Netflix isn't losing! 2.5 billion in revenue is far from losing.

Hulu never stood a chance, but that's because they don't offer what Netflix does. And I almost want to say they're in two separate categories, as Hulu is more TV while Netflix is more movies (while offering TV programs as well); so it's hard to compare the two when one is meant mainly for another product.

Ever since I got rid of TV 5 years ago, I've kinda missed that schedule that gets you going each night for a favourite show. It just doesn't have that same ring, and I would love to see a proper internet TV provider start up.

Recon415 said,
Ever since I got rid of TV 5 years ago, I've kinda missed that schedule that gets you going each night for a favourite show. It just doesn't have that same ring, and I would love to see a proper internet TV provider start up.

Yup, agreed. I don't know how a TV ad is like.