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Hulu "Grows Up" As a TV Rival, Guarantees 100% Ad Completion

The streaming service Hulu will hold a TV-style upfront on Thursday, reports the New York Times; and it is expected to announce it has reached two million paid subscribers of its $8/month Hulu Plus service. If true, then Hulu has gained 0.5 million in Q1 2012.

Hulu is a joint venture of NBCUniversal, Fox Entertainment Group and Disney-ABC Television Group, with additional funding by Providence Equity Partners (owners of Newport Television). The group conceived Hulu in 2007, to take advantage of ad-supported streaming TV. Hulu is available at no cost, while Netflix is subscriber-only and not ad supported.

ComScore in February revealed that Hulu is ninth among online video content properties, behind Google sites, VEVO and Viacom Digital, among others; but first in video ad impressions, at 1,557,832 ads viewed in February, versus 1,124,892 for Google sites combined.
On top of that value proposition, Hulu Senior VP of Sales JP Colaco pledged this morning at the Ad Age Digital conference that the company will soon count only those ads watched to completion in charging its advertisers. “If you pay for a full impression, you will get a full impression, full stop,” Colaco. That is an easy promise to make—opting out of an advertisement stops a Hulu video stream and only 4% of viewers opt to do so. That leaves 96% of ads streamed to completion.
Colaco wrote this morning on his Hulu blog that the guarantee “Is just another way we are working with the advertiser and viewer community to innovate.” Hulu in 2007 launched its Ad Selector which allows viewers to choose among multiple ads to select the one most relevant to them (e.g., a dog food versus a cat food ad). It recently introduced Hulu Ad Swap, which enables viewers to substitute out the ads they are watching for ones they feel are more relevant to them. “Since the launch of Hulu Ad Swap, we have seen over 9 million substitutions and that number is increasing every day,” wrote Colaco.
Finally, Hulu will present advertisers with its original programming. Among them is “Battleground,” s sitcom about a Senate campaign that premiered in February; “A Day in the Life,” a celebrity documentary series from Morgan Spurlock; and “Up to Speed,” set to premiere this summer, from filmmaker Richard Linklater of “Dazed and Confused” and “Slacker.” It may be a tough sell: of Hulu’s monthly list of its top 100 videos, reports the Times, just one episode of “Battleground” made the list. Still, the series will sit on Hulu in perpetuity, so has the potential for more ad impressions.


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