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This article is about the website. For the fruit, see Calabash. For the similarly named dance, see Hula.
The logo of Hulu.
Hulu screenshot.png
July 26, 2009
Type Joint venture
Founded 2007 (2007)
Headquarters Los Angeles, California
Area served United States
Revenue Increase $1 billion (2013)[1]
Owner NBCUniversal Television Group (32%)[2]
Fox Broadcasting Company (36%)
Disney–ABC Television Group (32%)

"Anywhere, Anytime"

"For the Love of TV"
Alexa rank Increase 292 (May 2015)[3]
Type of site Video on demand
Advertising Proprietary
Registration Not required for public content, but affords additional personalization features.
Registration and subscription required for Hulu Plus content.
Users apx.6 million Hulu Plus subscribers (2014)[4] Unknown number of free content viewers.
Available in English, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean
Launched October 29, 2007 (Hulu Syndication Network)[5]
March 12, 2008 ( destination site)[5]
Current status Active

Hulu is an American online company and ad-supported streaming service that offers a selection of TV shows, clips, movies, and more on the free service and Hulu subscription service. Hulu subscribers can access episodes in HD (when available) from ABC, Fox, NBC, and the CW the day after they air, using Internet-connected TVs, smartphones, game consoles, set-top boxes and other devices for a monthly subscription fee.

Hulu is currently offered only to users in the United States and its overseas territories. Other regions are blocked by IP address location. Hulu provides video in Flash Video format, including many films and shows that are available in 288p, 360p, 480p, and in some cases, 720p or 1080p HD (high-definition video). Hulu also provides web syndication services for other websites including AOL, Facebook, MSN, Myspace, Yahoo!, and Comcast's XfinityTV.

Hulu is a joint venture of NBCUniversal Television Group (Comcast),[6] Fox Broadcasting Company (21st Century Fox) and Disney–ABC Television Group (The Walt Disney Company).[7] Providence Equity Partners, the owner of Newport Television made a US$100 million equity investment and received a 10 percent stake.[8] In October 2012, Providence sold its 10 percent stake in Hulu.[9]


The name Hulu comes from two Mandarin Chinese words, húlú (葫芦/葫蘆), "calabash; bottle gourd", and hùlù (互录/互錄), "interactive recording". The company blog explains:

In Mandarin, Hulu has two interesting meanings, each highly relevant to our mission. The primary meaning interested us because it is used in an ancient Chinese proverb that describes the Hulu as the holder of precious things. It literally translates to "gourd," and in ancient times, the Hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things. The secondary meaning is "interactive recording." We saw both definitions as appropriate bookends and highly relevant to the mission of Hulu.[10]

It should also be noted that hulu is also a Sumerian word meaning "to strike the eyes; blinker, winker, one with vision problems". [11]


The Hulu venture was announced in March 2007 with AOL, MSN, Facebook, Comcast, Myspace and Yahoo! planned as "initial distribution partners". Jason Kilar was named the CEO in June 2007.[12][13] The name Hulu was chosen in late August 2007, when the website went live, with an announcement only and no content. It invited users to leave their email addresses for the upcoming beta test.[14] In October, Hulu began the private beta testing by invitation, and later allowed users to invite friends.[15] Hulu launched for public access in the United States on March 12, 2008.[5] The first product to launch was the HULU Syndication network, which was designed and developed by the NBCUniversal team from New York, on October 29, 2007, followed by the destinations site.

Hulu began an advertising campaign during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII with an initial ad starring Alec Baldwin titled "Alec in Huluwood".[16] The ad intended to humorously reveal "the shocking secret behind Hulu", portraying the site as being an "evil plot to destroy the world" by suggesting that Baldwin is really an alien in disguise.[17] Advertisements have since aired featuring Eliza Dushku, Seth MacFarlane, Denis Leary, and Will Arnett.

Early in 2010, Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar said the service had made a profit in two quarters and that the company could top $100 million in revenue by summer 2010, more than its income for all of 2009. ComScore says monthly video streams reached 903 million in January 2010, over three times the figure for a year earlier,[18] and second only to YouTube.[19]

On August 16, 2010, a report revealed that Hulu was planning an Initial Public Offering (IPO) which could value the company at more than $2 billion.[20][21]

On June 21, 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that an "unsolicited offer" caused Hulu to begin "weighing whether to sell itself."[22] On October 13, 2011 however, Hulu and its owners announced that they would not sell the company, as none of the bidders offered an amount that was satisfactory to its owners.[23]

It was reported that in 2011 Hulu made $420 million. The figure was $80 million short of the predicted revenue.[24]

The vacant CEO post was officially filled by former Fox Networks President Mike Hopkins on October 17, 2013.[25]

Content partners[edit]

Following the start of its service, Hulu signed deals with several new content providers making additional material available to consumers.

On April 30, 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would join the venture, purchasing a 27 percent stake in Hulu.[7]

Starting August 15, 2011, viewers of content from Fox and related networks are required to authenticate paid cable or satellite service wherever Fox streams episodes, including on Hulu, to be able to watch them the morning after the first airing. Non-subscribers will see those episodes delayed a week before they are viewable.[26]

On October 28, 2011, Hulu announced that they had inked a five-year deal with The CW, giving the streaming site access to next-day content from five of the six major networks.[27]

On September 18, 2013, Hulu announced a multi-year deal with the BBC that will deliver 2,000 episodes from 144 different titles in the first 12 months.[28]

Hulu Subscription Service[edit]

At an industry conference held on October 21, 2009, News Corporation Deputy Chairman Chase Carey stated that Hulu "needs to evolve to have a meaningful subscription model as part of its business" and that it would likely start charging for at least some content by 2010.[29] Carey's comment jibes with other News Corp. heads, including Rupert Murdoch who has expressed a desire to charge for content with a number of online units.[30]

The Hulu monthly subscription service, was launched in beta (preview) on June 29, 2010[31] and officially launched on November 17, 2010.[32] Like the free version of Hulu, the content available with a Hulu subscription also contains limited advertising. However, it offers an expanded content library including full seasons, day-after access to current season content and more episodes of shows available through the free Hulu. A Hulu subscription also provides subscribers with a wider array of viewing choices. The free Hulu is only available on PCs and laptops, while a Hulu subscription allows viewers to access Hulu through all Hulu-supported devices including set-top boxes, smart TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. A little more than a year after the launch of the Hulu subscription service, the number of paying subscribers reached 1.5 million.[33] In 2015, the number of paying subscribers rose to 9 million.[34] In 2014, Hulu announced that it had reached 6 million paying subscribers.[35]

By 2015, Hulu reached a 50 percent increase in subscribers and announced that the service had reached nearly 9 million paying subscribers.[36]

The current price of a monthly subscription is $7.99, while a yearly subscription costs $95.88.[37] The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2015 that Hulu was exploring an advertising-free subscription option for around $12 to $14 a month.[38]

On April 29, 2015, Hulu stated to the press that they would do away with the "Plus" brand name to make marketing more effective.


The company claims that Hulu now has millions of viewers on more than 400 million internet-connected devices in the US, including TVs, smartphones, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes.[39]

Media Players:

Example of browsing within Hulu app running on Android with Chromecast capabilities

Mobile Devices:

Mobile Browsers:

Game consoles:

Televisions (networked-enabled Smart Tvs) / Blu-ray Players:

  • Samsung Tvs/Blu-rays
  • Vizio Tvs/Blu-rays
  • Sony Tvs/Blu-rays
  • LG Tvs/Blu-rays
  • Panasonic Tvs/Blu-rays
  • Sharp TVS
  • Philips Tvs
  • Toshiba Blu-rays
  • Dynex Blu-rays
  • Denon Blu-rays
  • Marantz Blu-rays

Computer: The website is built to host content directly in a web browser. To watch Hulu videos, you will need:

  • Adobe Flash Player or above
  • Internet Explorer 8.0 or above, Firefox 18.0 or above, Safari 5.0 or above, or Chrome
  • Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or above, Macintosh OS X 10.4 or above, or Linux
  • JavaScript and Cookies enabled


Viewership numbers for the site are tracked by measurement firms such as ComScore, Nielsen ratings, and Quantcast. In partnership with comScore, Hulu is the first digital company to receive multi-platform measurement at an individual level that includes co-viewing for living room devices. When factoring this in, Hulu's reach among A18-49 increases 50 percent.

However, the reliability of these metrics has been drawn into question, partly due to widely divergent estimates. For example, between May and June 2010, ComScore updated its scoring methodology and its estimates for Hulu dropped from 43.5 million unique viewers to 24 million in a single month.[40] In a comScore digital trends report in 2010, comScore's Digital Year in Review report found that Hulu was watched twice as much as viewers who watched on the websites of the five major TV networks combined.[41]


Content partners[edit]

Hulu distributes video on its own website and syndicates its hosting to other sites,[42] and allows users to embed Hulu clips on their websites.[5] In addition to NBC, ABC and Fox programs and movies, Hulu carries shows from networks such as A&E, Big Ten Network, Bravo, E!, Fox Sports 2, FX, G4, Ion Television, NFL Network, Oxygen, RT America, Fox Sports 1, Esquire Network, SundanceTV, Syfy, USA Network, NBCSN, and online comedy sources such as Onion News Network.[43] Hulu retains between thirty and fifty percent of advertising revenue generated by the shows it distributes.[18]

In November 2009, Hulu also began to establish partnerships with record labels to host music videos and concert performances on the site, including EMI in November 2009,[44] and Warner Music Group in December 2009.[45]

In early March 2010, Viacom announced that it was pulling two of the website's most popular shows, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, off Hulu.[46] The programs had been airing on Hulu since late 2008.[47] A spokesman for Viacom noted that "in the current economic model, there is not that much in it for us to continue at this time. If they can get to the point where the monetization model is better, then we may go back."[47] In February 2011, both shows were made available for streaming on Hulu again.

Original content[edit]

As of January 17, 2011, Hulu has streamed its own in-house web series The Morning After, a light-hearted pop-culture news show. It is produced by Hulu in conjunction with Jace Hall's HDFilms and stars Brian Kimmet and Ginger Gonzaga. Producing the show is a first for the company, which in the past has been primarily a content distributor.[48]

On January 16, 2012, Hulu announced that it would be airing its first original script based program, titled Battleground, scheduled to air in February 2012. The program will air on Hulu's free web service rather than on the subscription-based Hulu Plus. Battleground is described as a documentary-style political drama.[49]

Later that same month, Hulu announced it would air The Fashion Fund, a six-part reality series, and the winner of the show will receive $300,000 to start their career.[50]

To continue with its original programming movement, Hulu announced that there will be a total of seven original programs that are planned to air on its service: Battleground, Day in the Life, and Up to Speed, and a were previously mentioned; and on April 19, Hulu added four more shows to its list: Don't Quit Your Daydream, Flow, The Awesomes, and We Got Next. Some of these programs began airing in 2012, while others will premiere over the next few years.[51]

On May 21, 2012, Hulu announced it would be bringing Kevin Smith to its line-up of original programming. Smith hosts a movie discussion show titled Spoilers, which began airing in the summer of 2012.[52]

South Park[edit]

On July 12, 2014, it was announced that Hulu had signed a three-year deal purchasing exclusive online streaming rights to the South Park library. Through the deal, the South Park Studios website became powered by the Hulu video and advertising experience.[53] Along with this, the domain name changed from "" to "".[54][55] Previously, the show had been removed from Netflix, along with other titles.[56] The new site launch caused a few technical issues, but everything was fixed and fans are able to watch full, uncensored [57] episodes and clips again on and Hulu. For viewers outside the US, episodes and clips still stream through the “classic” South Park player and nothing changed aside from the new site design. A handful of countries have their own localized versions of South Park sites – fans in these countries can continue to watch episodes and interact with other fans exactly as before.[58]

It was announced that beginning in September 2014, following the premiere of the 18th season, only 30 select episodes will be featured for free viewing at a time on the website, with new episodes being available for an entire month starting the day following their original airings. The entire series is available for viewing on the Hulu subscription service.


On May 14, 2015 AT&T struck a deal with Hulu that would give its customers access to streaming service on both regular and premium tiers.[59]

Networks and channels[edit]

Producers and distributors[edit]

International platforms[edit]

Hulu Exclusive[edit]


As of June 2015, access to Hulu is not available internationally outside of the United States.[60]

In 2013, Nippon Television Network Corporation (Nippon TV) acquired Hulu’s Japan business. The transaction, which is subject to certain regulatory conditions, marked Nippon TV’s entry into the SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) business. Through the acquisition, the Hulu service continues to offer Japanese consumers premium content, including Hollywood and Japanese films and dramas and popular television programming. Additionally, Nippon TV’s popular shows and original exclusive content launched on the Hulu service in Japan, expanding its content offering, and continuing to delight subscribers in Japan.[61] Japanese users have access to a library of popular television shows such as the CSI franchise, Grey's Anatomy, Prison Break, and Ugly Betty, and as well as movies such as Armageddon, Men in Black, and Pirates of the Caribbean.[62]

Hulu was planning on launching in the UK and Ireland in September 2009, but as of April 2010 these had been abandoned for the foreseeable future after failure to sign any content deals.[63] In July 2010, the Financial Times revealed that Hulu had been working on plans for an international launch of Hulu Plus for several months, and had identified the UK and Japan as markets where its free website and subscription model could feasibly work.[64] Hulu chief executive Jason Kilar expressed his belief that the US model could be replicated elsewhere, saying "We won't be satisfied until this is a global service."[65] Hulu's first expansion into an international market took place with the launching of service in Japan on September 1, 2011.[66]

Hulu is unable to launch in Canada, due to the relative small size of Canada's online advertising market, and because Canada's television networks already have the exclusive online streaming rights in Canada to several titles offered on Hulu, including mainstream American television network programs.[67]

Competitive programs[edit]

When comparing streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix and the Hulu subscription service, there are a few major components to consider. Price, interface and selection of programs offered are important factors when picking a streaming service. Netflix subscriptions cost $8.99 a month.[68][dated info] Amazon Prime membership costs $99 per year, or around $8.25 a month, and includes shipping benefits while using the website. In addition to free two-day shipping, subscribers gain access to the company's growing selection of TV shows and movies.[69] The Hulu subscription service costs $7.99 per month or $95.88 per year, but can afford to keep prices lower than its competition due to the advertisements along with its programming.[70]

All three interfaces display similar attributes, which make for easy viewership. As of now, the Hulu subscription service has over 8 million subscribers. According to Business Insider:[71]

"If you want to watch the latest episodes of your favorite popular shows, Hulu Plus is the place to go. Although you can binge-watch entire seasons of shows, Netflix and Amazon generally have to wait several months before they can stream the latest seasons."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hulu's Billion-Dollar Milestone: A Sign Of Just How Far Behind Netflix It Has Fallen" Forbes, December 19, 2013
  2. ^ ""NBC Officially Owns 32 Percent of Hulu (Until Comcast Acquires It)" Page 17 of 26; Accessed February 14, 2010". 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  3. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  4. ^ "Today at the Hulu Upfront". Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d " Opens to Public". Press Room (Press release). Hulu. 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  6. ^ Although NBCUniversal is a major shareholder (32%) of Hulu, by the Federal Communications Commission, NBCUniversal and Comcast are required not to exercise any right to influence the conduct or operation of Hulu. "Neither Comcast nor C-NBCU shall exercise any right to influence the conduct or operation of Hulu, including those arising from agreements, arrangements or operation of its equity interests (e.g., board seats, voting for directors or other shareholder matters, management and veto rights, etc.) and C-NBCU shall as and from the date of this Order hold its interest in Hulu solely as an economic interest." (MO&O, 1/20/11, FCC Grants Approval of Comcast-NBCU Transaction, Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal, Federal Communications Commission)
  7. ^ a b Kramer, Staci D. It's Official: Disney Joins News Corp., NBCU In Hulu; Deal Includes Some Cable Nets, April 30, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  8. ^ Brady, Shirley (2007-08-29). "NBC and Fox Jump Through Hulu Hoop". Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  9. ^ Lawler, Ryan (2012-05-12). "It’s Done: Early Hulu Investor Providence Equity Partners Has Sold Its Stake For $200M". Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  10. ^ Kilar, Jason (2008-05-14). "What's in a Name?". Retrieved 2010-07-17. 
  11. ^ "The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary". Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  12. ^ "NBC Universal and News Corp. Announce New Online Video Venture". Press Room (Press release). Hulu. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 
  13. ^ Nat Worden (2007-03-22). "Google's Still on Top". Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  14. ^ Nat Worden (2007-08-29). "Google's New Foe: Hulu". Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
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  17. ^ McCarthy, Caroline (January 26, 2009). "Hulu to shock the world with Super Bowl ad". CNET News. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Stelter, Brian; Stone, Brad (2010-04-05). "Hulu, the online-video hub, contemplates its future". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
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  24. ^ Van Grove, Jennifer (January 31, 2012). "Hulu CEO Jason Kilar: Original programming is an important part of the agenda.". VentureBeat. 
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  27. ^ Wasserman, Todd, Mashable [1]
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  29. ^ Atkinson, Claire (2009-10-21). "Chase Carey: Hulu to Charge in 2010". Broadcasting & Cable. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
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  47. ^ a b Multichannel News article: "Dauman: Vivendi Could Return To Hulu."
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  50. ^ Poggi Jeanine January 27, 2012. Hulu Adds Unscripted Series 'The Fashion Fund,' Accelerating Original Content Effort."
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  55. ^ "South Park - Watch Full Episodes, Clips & More". 
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External links[edit]