Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hulu: The numbers are out and they tell a great story

When I was in the US in April I fell in love with NBC and Fox's video sharing site, Hulu.

Hulu is great - it basically aggregates most of the TV content of NBC Universal and Fox (think Law & Order, SNL, American Idol, Family Guy, Simpsons, 24) - and allows what I think is the webs best example of TV on demand.

It's high quality (not HD) and the depth of content is impressive. If I want to watch the entire 3 seasons of Arrested Development - I can ... on demand. Pause/rewind/fast forward ... it's too easy.

In the States Hulu launched to much debate - many thought it wouldn't work - but the numbers are pretty strong and would have definitely inspired confidence in the NBC and News Ltd execs behind the concept.

Hulu is playing in a different space to YouTube - YouTube us UGC ... the US guys call it 'amateur video' ... Hulu is produced content - 'professional video' ... it's effectively TV programming taken online which gives users greater flexibility with how they view it. This works in their favour as the consensus seems to be that it will be easier to migrate brand dollars to professional video content rather than UGC video.

So the first bunch of Hulu data ...

2.43m unique users
26 streams per user (63,226,000 in total)
2 hours, 9 minutes spent per user on the site

2.43m isn't a massive number - but it's respectable to place Hulu in the Top 10 video sites. The real gold is in the 'engagement' metrics ... users are spending 2+ hours on the site a month ... compared to other TV offerings (ie ABC, CBS, NBC) this is excellent. Fox's website users spend about 20 mins on the site a month, whereas NBC's spend just over 90 minutes ... Hulu has beaten both of these.

That said - lets look at unique audience

NBC - 2.25m users streaming video
FOX - 4.04m users streaming video

Hulu is above NBC, but below FOX. ABC has 5.84m users streaming video ... the problem is they are only viewing 10 videos per month.

So Hulu has nailed 'sticky' ... now they just need to nail unique audience. I am pretty sure this will happen ... people talk and a service like Hulu definitely has that quality ... so you can be sure it already has vocal advocates spruiking its wares. Plus Hulu has some strong distribution deals which give it access to a wide variety of American eyeballs - through major networks and also niche players. Smart.

Now we just need it to come to AU. OR - one of the major networks to pull a Hulu and get their broadcast content online and on demand.
The Hulu strategy is basically if you give people what they want for free they probably won't want to steal it anymore. Seems to be working.

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