Growing an impressive 65 percent in 2012 alone is seemingly not enough for the ambitious minds at Hulu. Reports are surfacing that the online, content-streaming company is requesting an additional $200 million in funding for next year to spend on plans to expand the its reach even further in the upcoming months.
According to a report last week in the Wall Street Journal, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar announced the request via blogpost shortly after the company’s paid subscriber base had surpassed the 3 million mark earlier this year. The money, requested from Hulu’s parent companies Walt Disney Co, Comcast Corp. and News Corp., is intended to fund overseas expansion and various programming purchases.
The latter of those two purposes speaks to a new front in the content-streaming business that has recently opened up in 2012: original programming. With Netflix now funding its own original content — notably the recently resurrected Arrested Development and David Fincher’s adaptation of the British political drama House of Cards – it is no longer enough for streaming providers to simply offer repackaged and previously-available material. They to provide to subscribers with something that the competition does not.
Hulu has been working in this area for some time; it already invests in original programming such as A Day in The Life, a documentary series by Supersize Me‘s Morgan Spurlock, and Battleground, a political drama timed to coincide with the U.S. Presidential Election. It has also been aggressively importing foreign shows ahead of their broadcast debut, such as the British hit Misfits (which subsequently aired on Logo), The Thick of It (which went on to run on BBC America) and Spy, which remains without an American broadcast home.
It’s unclear whether Hulu will get the money that it’s asking for. Not only is the $200 million ahead of the budget already allocated to the company, but it comes at a time when its parent companies seem uncertain about the future of the streaming service. Disney has already noted in its own fiscal earnings that the company lost money in 2012, despite subscriber growth, due to increased programming and marketing costs. Disney is also said to be lining up against News Corp. when it comes to considering Hulu’s long-term future. Whereas Disney is in favor of continuing Hulu as an ad-supported, free viewing experience as well as a subscription model , News Corp. would prefer to offer only the paid model in lieu of the current streaming policy.
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