The beginning of the end for Hulu?

“It came as little surprise when Hulu’s maestro Jason Kilar confirmed long-time speculation that he would be leaving his post as the video streaming giant’s chief executive. He dropped the bombshell in typical Kilar fashion — on his blog. This post contained none of the brash, in-your-face dissertations that had so often vexed Hulu’s media company owners,” Janet Morrissey reports for Fortune. “This one was poignant, almost melancholic, as Kilar reminisced about a company he transformed from an empty office suite in 2007 into one that has attracted more than 3 million paying subscribers and generated $700 million in revenue in 2012.”

“‘My decision to depart has been one of the toughest I’ve ever made,’ he wrote, but gave no reasons for his exit. No finger-pointing. No long diatribes about the industry or Hulu’s owners. Zilch,” Morrissey reports. “In fact, the blog left more questions than answers, especially about Hulu’s long-term future and its viability in an industry that has become fiercely competitive.”

“At least one other employee — chief technology officer Richard Tom — is also leaving, causing industry experts to wonder how many others may follow the two out the door. Some speculate that many of the people Kilar brought in with him — colleagues from Amazon and buddies from Harvard Law School — may also exit, which could create considerable uncertainty at Hulu,” Morrissey reports. “Some industry analysts even wonder if this is the beginning of the end of Hulu.”

Morrissey reports, “James McQuivey, a media analyst at Forrester Research [said] ‘I was surprised Kilar stayed as long as he did.’ He believes the media owners have more or less lost interest in Hulu. ‘They don’t want it to succeed,’ says McQuivey. ‘It’s media economics — if it succeeds, it will do so by cannibalizing the currency of the television media business today which is television ratings. So they made a decision to make sure Hulu didn’t get too good or become too successful.'”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Jax44” for the heads up.]

31 Comments

    1. Yeah, my thoughts exactly. If you require people to have a cable subscription to watch your content online, they’re not going to suddenly sign up for a cable subscription. They’re either not going to watch, or they’ll just download it on BitTorrent like they used to.

  1. It seems a little disingenuous to think that a company is starting to die just because its founder leaves. After all, Apple continued to survive and eventually thrive after Steve Jobs left, and yes, it flourished after he came back, but it’s still going strong after he’s gone. Hulu will survive because it’s unique, and it provides a unique service offering, and until someone else comes along and does it better, Hulu will still be around.

      1. “Disingenuous” also means “withholding or not taking account of known information.” This would be correct if he is arguing that there are other factors not being considered when judging Hulu.

        1. No, he was drawing an analogy between apple and hulu, and there wasn’t the slightest hint that other factors were being left out. Further, to be disingenuous, you have to be aware of certain facts and then intentionally not address them or leave them out of your discussion in order to create a false impression. That is what disingenuous means.

  2. FYI

    Read this article which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to cancel Hulu because I never watch it. Just hate the commercials.

    So . . . I initiated the cancel process … and it offered to give me the next month free if I stayed. Agreed to those terms and set an iPhone reminder to cancel in 30 days.

    The more you know . . .

      1. Netflix blows the doors off of Hulu+. I hung onto Hulu+ for months thinking I would find a reason to keep it; it never happened.
        I couldn’t even consider dropping Netflix. The whole house uses it and loves it.
        There are certainly worse services out there than Hulu+ (thinking PlayOn) but I don’t think the future is bright for Hulu+.

        1. Now here’s my question about Netflix – what is their TV selection like? I was browsing around Netflix’ website, and it seems to me that the big differentiator is that Netflix is more geared towards movies while hulu+ is more geared towards TV. I saw a lot of the shows that my 21 month old son watches on Sprout on Hulu, but hardly anything, even that I would watch, on Netflix, unless it’s already pretty old. Am I understanding correctly, or am I missing something about Netflix?

          1. Netflix is more geared towards movies while hulu+ is more geared towards TV.

            I’m a little confused by your conclusion. As a happy Netflix subscriber, I’d say Netflix’ movie selection is hit-and-miss. Sure, if you and your significant other want to settle down and watch “something”, you can find a movie to watch on Netflix. But if you’re looking to watch a particular movie, chances are better than even that it won’t be there.

            Television shows, however, are where Netflix really shines. I’m using Netflix to get caught up on shows that I missed the first time around, like Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and Burn Notice. I’m finally watching Firefly, and plan to see what all the fuss was about with Mad Men and Arrested Development.

            The big difference between Netflix and Hulu Plus is that Netflix adds new episodes around the same time the DVD collections come out (if I’m understanding this right), while Hulu Plus gets the episodes while the season airs.

            But that’s fine with me, because I’m not a “cut the cord” type. I subscribe to Netflix to supplement cable, not replace it.

            ——RM

            1. Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like your response makes sense, since you also mentioned you like to keep cable for live sports and so you can DVR everything and fast forward through the commercials. I guess I was thinking more of Netflix as a movie provider because of how they started as a DVD-by-mail service, but also because when I browse through their selection (or at least the portion of their selection that they let you see before you actually sign up), they don’t list that many TV series, at least nowhere near the amount that Hulu lists. I was wondering if that was because Hulu really does offer more, or just because you can watch stuff for free on Hulu without subscribing (which you can’t do on Netflix) and so Netflix just doesn’t list their whole list of offerings to non-subscribers. Or some other reason entirely.

            2. I am, quite frankly, baffled by the weak selection of TV shows you see on the Netflix non-subscriber intro page. The weak selection they display is what kept me from subscribing for so long. It was testimonials from other people that finally got me to pull the trigger, and when I did, I was stunned by all the TV content available. Essentially, if it’s been on TV in the last few years, it’s probably on Netflix. (But again, only completed seasons.)

              (Maybe their distribution deals don’t allow them to use images of the shows in advertising??)

              ——RM

            3. If that’s what it is, then maybe they need to get better distribution deals, because showcasing the breadth of their offerings would probably help them compete against Hulu+ more effectively, which would also mean more revenue for the producers as well.

              On the other hand, if Netflix’ business model only allows them to show TV shows that have been released on DVD, then maybe we are better off getting Hulu+. I mean, my son loves watching the shows on Sprout, but what are the chances of anyone buying Super Why or Caillou on DVD? 😉

          2. Netflix has thousands of TV shows for kids. There’s even a “just for kids” section. My 4 year old has found some really good quality shows on her own (but we monitor everything she sees). Sprout content is absolutely on Netflix. What I would like to see next is more granular parental controls. Currently it’s an all-or-nothing thing. If I watch an R rated movie, I don’t want my kid to see that first up in recent history.

  3. I use HULU frequently. I cut the cord long ago. HULU actually has more content than people are giving it credit for, not to mention they’re starting to develop original content.

    If people just ignore such services and keep bowing before the established “screw the viewer” services nothing will ever change.

  4. Signed up for the 30 day free trial of HULU and cancelled it the same day. I’ve never watched Network TV shows because for a one hour show there are 15-20 minutes of commercials for products I will never use.

    Now with DVR and Netflix I’m watching some that interested me but never watched. HULU claimed to have later episodes that Netflix didn’t and they did. But when I downloaded a episode of Law & Order SVU and started watching imagine my surprise when a commercial interrupted the program. And even worse the FF was disabled.

    HULU is a paid service and they still want you to watch commercials?
    WHHANNNNNKKKK! Epic Fail! Cancel.

    1. Yeah, I remember those complaints that you had to watch commercials even after you paid a subscription. And when I was single and watching TV shows on hulu for free (and then asking for the DVDs for Christmas), that would have been a good argument against the subscription. Now that I have a family, and we have a big screen TV, and we have the devices to watch hulu on that big screen TV (Wii, Xbox), then it seems like it might be worth forking over the money, especially when compared with the cost of a cable TV subscription. Especially since we don’t get Syfy on DirectTV anymore. 😉

          1. Which I can fast-forward through once recorded on DVR.

            And it’s not really the same thing. Yeah, there are commercials on basic cable, but that’s appointment viewing. It’s a big difference when I pay for an on-demand service, essentially paying for convenience and control, and then to be subjected to advertisements that I can’t control.

            No way in hell would I shell out $7.99/month for an on-demand service just to be subjected to no-choice-you-have-to-watch commercials. Fsck that noise.

            ——RM

            1. I guess that’s your choice. For me, it’s a simple matter of having to spend fewer dollars (since we’re on a tight budget), so we’ll wait through the commercials to spend less than $10. 😉

  5. Last night (2013-01-14) I was watching Hulu and discovered that EVERYONE (except Toyota) has pulled their ads. All you get (except Toyota) are programming promotions. Deadly.

    Way to kill your service, Jason Kilar!

    Another stupidly named company bites the dust.

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