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Social media 'game-changer' for TV, says Hulu CEO

Late last month, the Wall Street Journal published a story that said Hulu’s owners — NBC Universal, News Corp and Walt Disney Co. — “are increasingly at odds over Hulu’s business model.”

Today, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar published a blog post that declared that Hulu’s free service is here to stay, Hulu will “generate higher advertising returns than any traditional channel can from their advertising service,” the Hulu Plus paid service is on track this year to hit 1MM users on more than $200MM in revenue, and most interesting to us — the impact of social media. He writes:

Consumers are demonstrating that they are the greatest marketing force a good television show or movie could ever have, given the powerful social media tools at consumers’ disposal. Consumers now also have the power to immediately tank a bad series, given how fast and broad consumer sentiment is disseminated. This is nothing short of a game-changer for content creators, owners, and distributors.

The power is shifting from programmers who carefully map out linear playback schedules to consumers who make their own non-linear playback decisions, increasingly driven by what their friends are talking about. Kilar ends his blog post with:

Our journey at Hulu involves significant risk. That is the nature of innovation, particularly the business of re-inventing television. A number of you that are reading this might be thinking that we’d have to be crazy to think that our small team can actually re-invent television and compete effectively against a landscape of distribution giants like cable companies, satellite companies, and huge online companies. We are crazy. All entrepreneurs need to be. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and there would be no naysayers. We are nothing if not a team that believes in the value of convictions, thoughtful stubbornness, and the relentless pursuit of better ways.

It will be an interesting year, that’s for sure.

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