Growth Matters: Hulu Offers Ready-When-You-Are TV and Video

Hulu, Growth MattersHulu, the video site of the major broadcast networks, has a funny name. "There's no definition of the word "Hulu" in the English language," says Brandon Boone, a spokesman for the company. "But it's an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we're building." Perhaps we should ignore what the word means in other languages. In Hawaiian, hulu means hair. In Malay and Indonesian, it refers to a person's rear end. Fortunately, in Lozi, it means great.

Greatness, of course, is what Hulu is aiming for. The Hulu service tries to provide users with the world's premier content, accessible whenever you want it for free. Hulu, which officially opened its doors to the public on March 12, 2008, is a joint venture of several major media companies including NBC Universal, News Corporation (NWS), and The Walt Disney Company (DIS). Each company has an ownership stake in Hulu and is represented on the company's board of directors. As content providers, they populate the site with their shows, movies, and video clips developing an enormous video library.

Hulu's Got 6 Million Video Players

With the might of these big companies, it seems Hulu should be an instant hit. Their content, of course, helps. The company offers a myriad of TV shows including The Simpsons, Family Guy and Lost. The service is free so it makes money from advertising sales.

But to succeed, Hulu knows it has to do much more. No longer do people stop everything to watch an episode of I Love Lucy at 6PM. Instead, watching videos is often an impulse decision and so Hulu is focused on building a system that allows consumers access to media on their own terms -- when they want and from wherever they are. The strategy is working. Hulu has grown significantly since its launch and now has more than 6 million Hulu players embedded on over 123,000 websites. It makes its content available to companies such as AOL (AOL), the parent company of DailyFinance, as well as MSN, MySpace, Yahoo (YHOO) and iMDB.

Plus, Hulu says it has some 300 advertisers and is working to get more. The ads that work best, according to the company, tend to be short in length. Those , says Boone, have a more powerful impact on the end user. But Boone goes on to say that while that seems to work, the company is always experimenting and finding new ways to optimize the advertising experience on Hulu.

Eventually, Hulu plans to roll out its service around the world, partnering with other content partners and acquiring distribution rights and licenses.

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