Hulu didn’t end up getting sold in 2011, but it nonetheless turned out to be a pretty big year for the premium video streaming service. Overall, the business grew by 60% over the previous year and raked in $420 million in revenue.
That money came from a combination of ad sales and paid subscriptions to the service’s Hulu Plus offering. They now have 1.5 million paying subscribers. It’s a far cry from Netflix’s more than 23 million paying members, but then again Hulu Plus only went live in 2010. According to Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, this is the fastest any paid video streaming service has reached 1.5 million users.
For both free and premium users, Hulu increased its selection of content substantially last year, most recently adding television shows from The CW and Univision. That focus on expanding its library of content will continue well into 2012, with a planned $500 million investment in acquiring the rights to television shows and movies.
Hulu’s growth is also fueled in part by its continued expansion into other markets around the globe as well as the effort the company puts into making its service available on a wide range of devices. Most gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets now have an app for Hulu Plus, even if many of them can’t access the advertising-supported Hulu website. This year, Hulu launched dedicated apps for the Kindle Fire, XBox 360 and Nook e-reader, among others.
Despite the long list of supported devices, Hulu’s cross-device compatibility could be even better. The service has irked users of Boxee and Google TV-powered units by blocking access to those devices. Even though Hulu Plus is available in the Android Market, that app can’t run on Google TV and when you try to navigate to Hulu.com from the platform’s Web browser, the site is blocked on Hulu’s end. The same is true of the Boxee Box. A long-awaited Hulu Plus app for the Apple TV is allegedly ready and working, but has been held up due to political reasons.