Hulu is a website and over-the-top (OTT) subscription service offering ad-supported on-demand streaming video of TV shows, movies, webisodes and other new media, trailers, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage from NBC, Fox, ABC, TBS, and many other networks and studios. Hulu videos are currently offered only to users in the United States, its overseas territories and Japan.
Hulu provides video in Flash Video format, including many films and shows that are available in 288p, 360p, 480p, and in some cases, 720p or 1080p HD. Hulu also provides web syndication services for other websites including AOL, MSN, MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Comcast's xfinityTV. Hulu is a joint venture of NBCUniversal Television Group (Comcast), Fox Broadcasting Company and Disney/ABC Television Group (The Walt Disney Company.
Hulu Plus, a monthly subscription service, was launched on November 17, 2010. Like the free version of Hulu, the video available on Hulu Plus also contains commercials. However, it offers subscribers an expanded content library in the form of full seasons and more episodes of shows already available through Hulu. Hulu Plus is available on a wide range of platforms, including: Apple TV, Blue-Ray players, TiVo DVR boxes, Smart TV’s, Smartphones, Tablets, all gaming consoles (Wii, PS3, XBOX), and Roku Streaming Player. A little more than a year after the launch of Hulu Plus, the number of paying subscribers reached 1.5 million.
Hulu distributes video on its own website and syndicates its hosting to other sites, and allows users to embed Hulu clips on their websites. In addition to NBC, ABC and Fox programs and movies, Hulu carries shows from networks such as Current TV, ION Television, USA Network, Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, NFL Network, Speed, Big Ten Network, Syfy, Style, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus, A&E, Oxygen and online comedy sources such as Onion News Network. Hulu retains between thirty and fifty percent of advertising revenue generated by the shows it distributes.
Hulu is building on its roster of original programs to persuade its marketers to make bigger commitments and attract new ones. The site is offering ad buyers the ability to target viewers by demographics, geography and by viewing device. Earlier this week Hulu said advertisers would only pay for ads that had been viewed start to finish.
Like the broadcast television business, Hulu depends on revenue from its sponsors so it can provide video free of charge. Of course, everything comes with a price: Hulu loads advertisements from its sponsors every time you request a video. These ads include short video spots that run before and after the video, and during the video's natural commercial breaks. Each sponsor also contributes ad banners and video overlays, which are displayed with the video and linked to the sponsor's site. Hulu offers its sponsors a complete list of these and other ad formats in its media kit.
Hulu splits its ad revenue with the site's content providers and distribution partners. While the company doesn't disclose its current revenue distribution percentages, some reports have stated that Hulu gives about 70 percent of its ad revenue to the content provider and about 10 percent to the distribution partner if the video was shown on the partner Website. Critics of Hulu's business model have scrutinized the company's choice to keep as little as 20 percent of its revenue, but Hulu continues to partner with more content providers and enjoy a steady increase in sponsors and viewers.