A year after its official launch, Hulu thinks its time it made some friends. The NBCU/News Corp (NYSE: NWS). video site is adding a social network, called Hulu Friends, joining its smaller rivals CBS’ TV.com and Joost, the WSJ reports. Users will be able to create their own profiles, which Hulu believes will encourage more sharing of its videos. Whether that will lead to significantly more viewing — and more advertising revenue in turn — is an open question. More importantly, the direct sharing of video preferences and content within Hulu will make it much easier to track what individuals are watching and hence, make them more targetable for ads.
Strangely, the WSJ makes a point of saying that by broadening its identity as a social net, it could somehow diminish cable networks’ fears that Hulu is eroding their value by making consumers less reliant on subscribing to its channels. If anything, this would only seem to enhance Hulu’s attractiveness to viewers by offering connections that cable providers would have great difficulty. Still, it remains to be seen how many users would want to join a social net centered around general video entertainment as opposed to more narrow interests. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with Hulu’s growth: as AdAge’s Michael Learmonth points out, citing unreleased figures from Nielsen Online’s VideoCensus, traffic on Hulu rose 33 percent last month thanks to its Super Bowl ad, making it the number two video site after YouTube.
– Condé Nast friends Hulu: Separately, Condé Nast Digital says it will start distributing its videos on Hulu as well. CDN sites Style.com, Epicurious.com Wired.com and Men.Style.com, as well as VogueTV, will proffer weekly videos related to those respective properties’ fashion, food, technology and travel features. Given Hulu’s surging traffic, placing CDN’s videos on it will more than complement its existing syndication deals with YouTube, Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) Media Player, *Sony* Bravia Internet Video and *Verizon* V-Cast.