hulu was born to divert attention (and content) away from google/youtube and provide a legitimate online destination for high quality tv content. hulu.com did this perfectly. the UI was clean, commercial integration was elegant and the branding was top notch. the catalog was good but not great. certainly good enough to achieve the original goals.
the problem is the complexity of hulu as a corporate entity and the cost of running the product/service is as much through the roof as their revenues.
also… content partners are king in the relationship. their is no guarantees about long-term and/or exclusive content deals and hulu has to make content partners happy with generous terms otherwise… not much prevents them from launching their content on their own pre-existing online properties (ie. ComedyCentral, CBS etc).
hulu also has competition from Netflix and a handful of other players in the market. competition is expected to increase during the next 5 years making continued hulu success more difficult to maintain.
hulu is pushing out more frequent ads and diluting it’s original consumer value as a nonintrusive experience for watching video.
even the Pay (Pro) version still has ads. in order to be profitable, ads will likely increase in frequency even more so. it is also still very difficult to get paying subscribers. netflix prob has the upper-hand with long-term existing paying customer relationships. either way, it is a challenge for hulu and it is not clear whether hulu can attain the amount of paying customers needed to bring the kind of profits that are expected and required to make the large group of owners and investors happy over time.
their are many obstacles. that’s not to say that any other company comes without obstacles. it just seems to me that hulu itself with its complex structure of owners and partners and uncertainty that can always be in the air…. that this is a unique situation and it almost needs to be all or nothing. maybe hulu can be the king brand for the future of TV…. but it’s too early to cement that and i can only express the obvious and my gut feeling on the future outcome. if i’m wrong, great. because i am a huge proponent of video on demand options and hulu is one of them. its not that i dont like hulu, its just when i peer inside its inner-workings, i get skeptical.
suppose thats why they want to IPO so badly. no clear path to profit without substantially securing ‘time’ to work on making this machine run as an efficient money-maker for years to come. if it takes almost a billion dollars to begin to see light at the end of the tunnel…. how great of a business model is that really?