Survey: Hulu shifts video archive to pay service

Thu, 08/26/2010 - 8:50am
Brian Santo

That Hulu would offer content for a fee has been a foregone conclusion; the question was: What content would Hulu move from the free to the for-pay Hulu Plus? The answer: a small handful of the most popular broadcast TV shows, plus the entire current season of most other shows, plus past seasons, plus HD versions of most content.

At the same time, Hulu was affirmed to be the most-used Internet television site.

Hulu long ago stopped making available for free all but a small handful of the most recent episodes from any given broadcast TV show. Earlier episodes, including those from previous seasons, tended to be unavailable. The company is betting that viewers will pay $9.99 a month for full access to all episodes of the shows available. It sweetened the pot by making Hulu Plus content available on mobile devices.

An analysis of television content made available from Hulu Plus found that the service is offering 3,564 full-length TV show episodes that are not available from the free platform. Two-thirds of the added episodes are drawn from primetime schedules of the broadcast TV networks associated with Hulu's owners Walt Disney Co. (ABC), NBC Universal (NBC) and News Corp. (Fox). The census was taken by One Touch Intelligence.

Among the handful of notable shows available exclusively from Hulu Plus (and absent from are ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter" and "Modern Family," FOX's "Master Chef" and "Prison Break," and the NBC shows "The Biggest Loser," "My Name is Earl" and "Law and Order."

"The unresolved question is whether these incremental content enhancements are enough to compel Hulu users to begin paying for a companion subscription service," said Stewart Schley, One Touch Intelligence senior director for industry intelligence (Schley is also a contributor to CED).

Examples of content comparisons from Hulu's broadcast network partners:

No. of Episodes
Network/Series Hulu Plus
8 Simple Rules 0 52
Castle 5 23
Cougar Town 5 24
Ugly Betty 10 72
Supernanny 5 94
Modern Family 0 24
24 5 22
Bones 10 27
Family Guy 5 147
House 5 21
Prison Break 0 77
The Wanda Sykes Show 11 21
30 Rock 5 75
Friday Night Lights 5 17
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 11 187
Law & Order 0 191
My Name Is Earl 0 74
Parks and Recreation 6 33
Source: One Touch Intelligence analysis of Hulu data from 8/12 to 8/17 2010

One Touch Intelligence, in a separate survey of more then 1,000 viewers, determined that full-length content from the Internet occupies 31 percent of the total time these viewers spend with various at-home television sources, or more than twice the amount of time spent watching DVD or Blu-ray discs and five times the amount of time spent watching on-demand or pay-per-view content.

Hulu is the most-watched Internet video site, with 53 percent of Internet video households watching long-form content from Hulu at least once a month. YouTube is a runner-up.

Viewers who watch Internet video on TV screens are significantly less likely to watch short-form content than those who watch over PCs, and they are more likely to use a video game console to connect Internet video to the TV screen than a PC or Internet-connected TV set, the survey found.

Schley said: "In homes where people have begun using the Internet as a source for branded, long-form entertainment, usage and satisfaction levels are high, and usage is dispersed over a fairly wide age and demographic range. Also, our study points out that those who watch Internet video on TV screens, rather than purely over PCs, appear to be more willing to ascribe economic value to the experience."

Other findings:

  • Internet video content seen on TV screens accounts for 11 percent of time spent viewing.
  • Among all Internet video households (homes in which adults watch full-length TV shows or movies at least monthly), 52 percent of viewers watch Internet video exclusively on PCs.
  • 42 percent of viewers watch Internet video on both PCs and TV screens.
  • 6 percent of viewers watch Internet video exclusively on the TV screen.

Among the 48 percent of Internet video households in which Internet video is watched on TV screens, connected videogame consoles represent the most common means of connecting TV screens to Internet video sources, with 73 percent of respondents indicating they use an Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii to export Internet video to a TV screen.


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