What a difference a year makes. Around this time in 2008, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar was the belle of the online video ball, and had audiences rapt as he talked about his obsession with providing a good consumer experience.
Flash-forward to this week’s CTAM cable conference, and Kilar is now defending his business, telling Broadcasting & Cable, “I like to say that I’m a capitalist,” and that he’s not “giving [premium content] away for free.”
Hulu’s TV network owners, feeling the heat from lower upfront ad dollars, a viewing audience that is migrating to new methods of TV consumption, and changing standards of success, have been quite vocal about their desire for Hulu to make more money. Last week, News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey caused a Twitter panic when he said that he “supposes” Hulu will start charging by 2010.
Hulu’s fewer-is-better ad model is also facing heat from the cable companies and their TV Everywhere initiatives, which will likely bring the same number of ads for a show online as there are on TV. Kilar has said Hulu supports authentication efforts, but they must “have a strong user experience.”
Having met Kilar, and seen how he’s grown Hulu over the past year, we wouldn’t bet against him. Hopefully, if he does have a plan, his corporate parents will keep trusting him.