Hulu saw virtually its entire senior exec team fly out the door in 2013, but newly appointed CEO Mike Hopkins is focusing on the positive — boasting that the Internet TV venture will reach $1 billion in revenue this year and hired more than 260 new employees.
The $1 billion in revenue for Hulu is up 44% from $695 million in 2012, Hopkins wrote in a blog post. “When you think about the fact that Hulu first launched out of beta in 2008, it’s quite an impressive feat to scale the business from zero to $1 billion over the course of just six years,” he wrote. The company also now has more than 5 million subscribers to Hulu Plus, after passing the 4 million mark in the spring.
But the figures indicate Hulu’s growth is slowing down: The venture’s revenue for 2012 represented a year-over-year increase of 65%, and last year it doubled Hulu Plus subs to 3 million.
That means to hit anything near Netflix-size numbers — the Internet subscription VOD leader has more than 40 million customers worldwide — Hulu will need to pack on more content. Hopkins is pledging to do that, for now signaling that he’s sticking with Hulu’s dual strategy of free and paid services.
Hopkins, formerly head of distribution Fox Networks, was tapped to run Hulu in mid-October. He was brought in after Hulu’s parents — Disney, 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal — scrapped efforts to sell the company and said they would plow $750 million into the venture.
One of his most urgent tasks right now is recruiting top managers to replace those who have left. Those include JP Colaco, Hulu’s senior VP in charge of advertising sales and operations, left the company last month to join The Fremont Project — the stealth startup founded by former Hulu chief Jason Kilar and ex-CTO Richard Tom.
Despite the senior-level exodus, Hulu in 2013 grew its headcount nearly 20% in 2013 to stand at 725 employees currently. And, according to Hopkins, in the last two quarters of the year, Hulu added over 140 new hires.
Meanwhile, Hulu now has 488 content partners, which provide more than 86,000 TV episodes, 2,900 TV series and 68,000 hours of video on Hulu and Hulu Plus.
Hopkins noted that currently Hulu Plus is the only online-video subscription service that offers current-season content from five of the six largest U.S. broadcast networks (with the exception of CBS). Of the 5-plus million paying subscribers, about half are now streaming exclusively on devices (rather than PCs).
On the originals front, Hulu in 2013 launched about 20 series including “The Awesomes,” “Behind the Mask” and “The Wrong Mans” and Hopkins reiterated that the company wants to double its originals lineup in the next few years.
Hulu’s advertising clientele expanded to more than 1,000 brands, up 15% over last year, according to Hopkins’ post. Users streamed more than 1 billion content videos in each quarter, and watched about 50 minutes per session in the fourth quarter of 2013.