launches Friends

Web site offers social networking features has launched Hulu Friends, a set of social networking features meant to encourage viewers to spend more time watching TV on the popular video site.

The new product, which coincides with the one-year anniversary of the site’s beta launch, further differentiates the viewing experience on the News Corp./NBC Universal joint venture from cable TV. Similar features are already available through online competitors CBS-owned and Joost.

Much like Facebook, Hulu Friends allows users to create a profile page and connect with friends to share videos, track what they’re watching and leave notes for each other. Users also can find and connect with friends from Facebook, MySpace Gmail, Yahoo! mail and Hotmail.’s CEO told the Wall Street Journal Thursday the new features are meant to encourage increased viewing, driving ad sales. To use the new features, users must create a Hulu account, which helps track who’s watching what and allows advertisers to better target ads.

Hulu is promising to add a new fan feature daily through the next week. Meanwhile, said Thursday that it has added 1080p high definition streams for TV shows on its site.

Jennifer Netherby is a reporter for Video Business.

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