July 7, 2011

Hulu Expects Subscriptions To Jump To 1 Million

Internet video service Hulu expects the number of paying subscribers to top 1 million by the end of summer, much earlier than it previously predicted, said its chief executive on Wednesday.

The popularity of the paid plan has soared and may lead to even more interest in Hulu, which is currently owned by Walt Disney Co., News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners. The company is up for sale and several potential buyers have shown interest.

"We are extremely encouraged by the ramp of this business," CEO Jason Kilar said on the company blog. The company remains on track to "approach half a billion in 2011 revenue," he added.

Kilar said the number of people paying for Hulu Plus reached 875,000 in June. Its paying subscribers get access to more TV shows and can also watch on mobile devices. The free service is only available on computers.

Hulu generated the largest share of U.S. online video advertising revenue in the second quarter, Kilar said.

The company began presenting its financial information to interested bidders last month after an unsolicited offer prompted the board to look for other offers. About a dozen potential buyers have come forward, including Google and Yahoo, according to a anonymous person familiar with the matter.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, speaking on the sidelines at an annual gathering of top media execs hosted by investment bank Allen & Co. in Sun Valley, Idaho on Wednesday, told The Associated Press that Hulu's owners are "committed to selling."

Though Hulu is popular, it is under pressure from cable and satellite companies that are reluctant to pay top dollar to carry programming offered for free on the Web. Also, many programmers are unwilling to put their shows on a free site with an advertising model that has yet to prove itself with premium video.

Hulu's biggest rival is Netflix, which has more than 20 million US subscribers. Netflix announced Tuesday that it is expanding into Latin America and the Caribbean.


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