The Fox/NBC online video joint venture Hulu has been online for a year now, and while at first naysayers didn’t give it much of a chance the service has managed to become a leading source of online television and video programming, thanks in part to offering up a wide range of current and library content (semi-reliably) and in formats that are friendly to a wide range of browsers and broadband connections. Hulu claims some 24 million users a month—which would make it second only to YouTube in the online video game—and says it has more than 40,000 videos online from more than 130 content partners.
Now Hulu seems to be trying to answer some of the more frequent criticisms leveled against it: that it does very little to encourage users to interact with the site or each other. Although users have been able to sign up to receive notifications of new shows for some time, Hulu has now quietly rolled out features that enable registered users to add friends to their profiles (using FaceBook and Gmail); once folks are friends, they can recommend shows to one another and leave messages on Facebook-like walls. The new social features are undoubtedly aimed at making the site “stickier” to frequent users—and hence more attractive to advertisers—although it’s unclear their quiet launch will really attract much attention, since Hulu has thusfar emphasized a passive video-consuming experience .