Even a Day Late and a Billion Dollars Short, Hulu Still Matters

By | June 26, 2013

UPDATE:  Hulu is no longer for sale, with its original owners rebuking deals from buyers. Did they realize Hulu’s value? Or, is Hulu’s future foggy? Stay tuned.

In most cases, 70+ job openings at a sexy company which, with a few others, singlehandedly helped redefine the Media and Entertainment landscape would be an indicator of growth. Not so in the case of Hulu.  I’d consider this more an indication of rudderlessness.   Visionary CEO, Jason Kilar – my serious tech crush – has left the helm, along with many (if not most) of his right-hands.  Hulu has been on-and-off the auction block for as long as anyone can remember.

Now, with a serious bid on the table from DirecTV – and looming rumors that a deal will be done soon – it looks like Hulu’s days as a platform for Disney, Fox and NBC are numbered.

Ah. What a difference a couple of years make– $1 billion to be exact.  That’s the difference between the one-time price tag wooers were offering the OTT darling then and the rumored price on the table now.

While there’s no telling how the shift to any acquirer might unfold for the service, the news that the acquirer might be DirecTV is telling.  Bringing Hulu into the family could allow the satellite TV behemoth to close a significant gap in its service by providing a meaningful online offering. And, with well-established relationships with Hollywood and solid licensing agreements, DirectTV has the oomph to make sure Hulu’s content remains relevant, if no longer exclusive. The same is true for any cable, telco or satellite buyer, though – buying Hulu makes you look like you’re ready for the future.

But, there’s one angle the tech trades seem to be missing. And, maybe it takes the keen eye of an analytics powerhouse to notice. You see, DirecTV has long been an industry leader in applying analytics to gain customer insight  – using analytics to maintain and grow their subscriber base through meaningful offers. The promise of an online and OTT channel brings with it the opportunity to capture and analyze exactly how consumers are engaging with content across multiple channels in ways that few companies are doing today.

I call that capability content analytics. Just imagine the power that cross-channel, real-time, behavioral and engagement data can wield.

Well, you don’t even need to imagine –because some analytics powerhouses are already using content analytics to drive business and insight. One key example? Netflix, who readily admit that 75% of their audience watches content because they recommend it – and those recommendations, along with just about everything else at Netflix, are done with analytic muscle.

So, while we all wait with baited breath for the final word on what happens to Hulu, there’s no question that it’s as relevant as ever.  Maybe no longer as a pioneer –but as a rocket to take its new owner into a future landscape where the living room isn’t the end-all be-all.

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