Hulu and Viacom announced this week a broad partnership that has returned “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” to Hulu.com. In addition, many other shows from Viacom-owned networks, including Comedy Central, MTV, BET, VH1, Spike TV, and TV Land, will be available to Hulu Plus pay subscribers.
Classy programs like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom 2” and the ever-hilarious “Tosh.0” can be accessed with a Hulu Plus subscription. These shows, and a variety of others, will appear on the site 21 days after they air on cable. How long they remain on Hulu Plus will vary depending on the show.
Hulu Plus subscribers, who pay about $8 per month for access to the service, should also be pleased to hear that more than 2,000 episodes from Viacom’s monstrous library of shows, including “The Chappelle Show,” “Reno 911” and “Beavis & Butthead,” will be added as well.
The news probably comes as a breath of fresh air for Hulu, which has been at the losing end of some bad press in recent months.
But according to Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, things are only looking up for the online video site.
In a blog post published in conjunction with the announcement of the Hulu-Viacom deal, Kilar shows that ad revenue for Hulu has increased dramatically since 2008, rising from $0.044 per half-hour episode to $0.185 per episode in the fourth quarter of 2010. While this is less than the $0.216-per-half-hour available to the fat cats in broadcast television, it remains well above the measly $0.048 that distributors get for shows played through cable DVR.
Kilar also took a shot at the high-flying Netflix, saying that he expects Hulu Plus, which is projected to hit 1 million users this year — far less than Nexflix’s current 20-million-strong subscriber base — to be able to pay content owners more on a per-user per-month basis than “anyone else” (i.e. Netflix). “We are able to do this,” Kilar writes, “because of the subscription fee, our unusually effective and market-leading advertising service, and our tolerance for thin margins.”
According to Kilar, networks stand to make more from their shows “than they have historically,” if they license their content using the per-user per-month model to which Hulu subscribes. (Alternately, Netflix has made flat-rate deals with content owners.) “We see strong upside for content owners that are laser-focused on the per-user per-month economics,” says Kilar. “A greater percentage of the pie should flow to content owners and creators in the future.”
Whether Kilar is heading Hulu down the right path or not remains to be seen. But the Viacom deal shows the industry is willing to believe his economic evaluation. To learn more about where Hulu sees TV heading, check out Kilar’s full post here. Or, just go watch some good ol’ Jon Stewart, and let someone else worry about the future of television.
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