Hulu wants to go International

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HuluHulu is planning to bring its IPTV service to other markets and would be willing to take new investors on to do so, according to Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar in an interview last Wednesday. He said that there's an "unmet need" for such a service, but mr. Kilar declined to specify what countries Hulu is aiming for.

WebProNews points out to the challenges of new investors:

Accepting new funds could be a tricky process.  Hulu's existing partners/backers (ABC, Fox, NBC, and Providence Equity Partners) may be loathe to give up any control over the organization, especially if it would mean compromises where topics like advertising and Hulu Plus subscription rates are concerned.

According to the Wallstreet Journal, a "person familiar with the matter said that Mr. Kilar has expressed interest in rolling out the service in Japan. Currently, Hulu offers its service only in the U.S." It will be a challenge to enter international markets, because foreign sales of US TV shows are already booming business, for instance international buyers of TV shows which win exclusive rights of these shows in their territories.

It remains to be seen if the international expansion will happen this time, "previous attempts to expand internationally have failed, including a deal with UK tv networks ITV, which was close to being closed until the ITV Hulu deal was abandoned due to equity share disagreements and a new direction ITV wanted to take concentrating on its own Catch Up TV website." as explained by WorldTVPC.

Two interesting facts with regard to Hulu Plus in the interview:

Mr. Kilar also said Hulu's new $7.99-a-month subscription service is performing ahead of the company's expectations, although he declined to comment on the number of sign-ups. He reiterated that Hulu will earn more than $240 million in ad revenue alone in 2010, up from $108 million in 2009. The company, based in Los Angeles, has 250 employees.

Hulu Plus subscribers can watch the service on TVs through gaming consoles and media players and also on computers and Apple's iPad. Mr. Kilar said the average Hulu Plus user watches more content on devices that aren't computers.

There's criticism from users that complain they need to consume ads on top of a monthly subscription fee. Mr. Kilar pointed out this will remain to subsidize the fee. This is a valid point from the user point of perspective, though at the other hand, as reported in a previous article on Hulu:

The CEO (Kilar) made a point to highlight Nielsen research showing that ads on Hulu are 55 percent more effective than the same ads on traditional television.



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