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Hulu Plus set to hit 1M subscribers

Fri, 02/04/2011 - 7:15am
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hulu Plus, the video subscription plan that charges $8 a month to watch a range of TV shows online, will have 1 million paying customers this year and post annual revenue of more than $200 million, according to Hulu's chief executive Jason Kilar.

The details, made clear in a blog post late Wednesday came on the heels of the announcement of a new content distribution deal with Viacom Inc. to replay hit shows like MTV's "Jersey Shore." The shows, which also include "Tosh.0" and "Hot in Cleveland," will be available to subscribers 21 days after they first run on television and after Viacom has a chance to show reruns on its websites.

The deal, which also brings "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" back to the free version of Hulu online, runs into mid-2012. Those shows disappeared from Hulu last March in a dispute over payments. Both the paid and free services of Hulu come with advertising.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman told investors Thursday that what changed his mind about the service was its offer to share subscription revenues along with advertising dollars – a model that mirrors the pay TV services provided by companies such as Time Warner Cable Inc. and DirecTV.

"We are very interested in the new business plan that Hulu has come forward with because it replicates the dual revenue stream that we enjoy in the traditional distribution realm," Dauman said.

Kilar also said that all of Hulu, including its free website, will generate nearly $500 million in revenue in 2011, up from $263 million in 2010 and $108 million in 2009.

Hulu is owned by The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., Comcast Corp.'s NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners.

Hulu has emerged as one of the largest providers of video content online. Competitor Netflix Inc., which complements its online streaming service with its legacy mail-order DVD rental business, finished 2010 with 20 million subscribers and revenue of $2.16 billion.

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