Hulu reaches 5 million subscribers, $1B in revenue

TV streaming service has record year, despite the attempt by its owners to sell it off

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 18, 2013
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2013 turned out to be a very interesting, and pretty turbulent, year for subscription streaming TV service Hulu. It was also one that, somewhat surprisingly, has turned out to be very successfu, in spite of everything that went on.

First, the company put itself up on the market for the second time in just three years, only to cancel the sale. Instead the company's owners, Comcast, Disney and News Corp, invested $750 million into it, andreplaced its CEO

And, in the end, that turned out to be pretty wise decision, as the company has just announced that 2013 was its best year yet.

Over the past year, Hulu reached $ 1 billion in revenue for the first time, newly appointed CEO Mike Hopkins wrote in a blog post. That is up around 44% from last year's total of $695 million. 

"When you think about the fact that Hulu first launched out of beta in 2008, it’s quite an impressive feat to scale the business from zero to $1 billion over the course of just six years," he said.

Perhaps more impressive is the size of its user base. Hulu now has 5 million paying subscribers for its Hulu Plus service. The company gained one million of them since it announced it had 4 million subscribers in April of this year. 

More than half of Hulu Plus content is now being streaming exclusively on devices, including the Xbox One, PlayStation4, Chromecast, Nintendo 3DS and Windows Phone 8. Hulu viewers streamed more than 1 billion content videos in each quarter, Hopkins said. 

In addition, Hopkins also revealed that the company's advertising partners reached 1,000 brands, an increase of 15% from the year before. 

And all of this growth came from a company whose owners seemed all too ready to get rid of it only a few months ago.

Hulu’s owners had received bids from a partnership between AT&T and Chernin Group, and a partnership between Guggenheim Digital Media and private equity firm KKR.

DirecTV was rumored to be the strongest bidder after submitting an offer of $1 billion. Other parties rumored to be interested in buying Hulu included Yahoo, which was reportedly offering a bid of $600-$800 million, and Time Warner.

This was, as you may remember, the second time that the same owners tried to sell Hulu. It had previously put itself up for sale in June 2011, after clashes between the owners and management over how to run the site. They got bids from all the major digital media companies: Amazon, Google, Dish Network, and Yahoo.

In October of that year, though, the sale was called off and the owners vowed to focus on growing the service instead.  And the same thing happened again in 2013.

So now that Hulu has reached record highs once again, will its three owners finally be content and stop trying to sell it off? Something tells me the answer to that is no.

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