Friday, November 21, 2008

Hulu's Time Has Come

A few days ago, the Financial Times reported that lessor known, Hulu, an online video site showing only professional TV shows and movies, is poised to overtake Google's Youtube in revenue as early as next year.  Hulu is owned by News Corporation and NBC Universal.

In 2008, Youtube and Hulu are expected to generate $100 M and $70M in ad revenue, respectively. However, in 2009, both companies are expected to have annual revenue of ~ $180 M.  Currently, Youtube generates about 50% of its revenue outside of the United States all of Hulu's revenue comes from the United States.

There is some clutter around these numbers in terms of gross revenue vs net revenue (Hulu has to pay more for its professional content than Youtube does for its amateur content, go figure!) as well as operating expenses (Youtube has to support A LOT of bad amateur videos that it will never, ever make money on).  

That said, Hulu's TV shows and Movies generate more revenue per viewer and video than YouTube's user-generated content and advertisers are still shying away from Youtube's unpredictable content.

Bottom line, this suggests that traditional media companies can make money online and that social networking sites might be better at generating traffic than generating revenue from amateur (and illegal) content.