Bullish Numbers On Long-Form Video In The Short-Term

hulu Making the case for long-form video online, Hulu continues its explosive growth trajectory, increasing a whopping 490% in total streams year-over-year, according to new data from Nielsen VideoCensus.

That translates to 373.3 million streams in April -- up from 63.2 million last April -- which solidifies Hulu's status as the fastest -growing premium video brand online.

"Historically, short form, clip-length video has ruled streaming on the Web," said Jon Gibs, vice president, media and analytics at Nielsen Online.

Yet according to Gibs, the success of Hulu -- originally a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp.-- proves that the Web need not be dominated by content bits and bites.

"Hulu, along with pure-play providers like Veoh and the TV networks, have spent the past two years trying to convince consumers that the Internet can be a good place to watch full-length programming as well," he said. "April's strong showings of Hulu, Fox, and ABC suggest that consumers are beginning to listen."

YouTube, however, does still clearly dominate the world of online video. In April, it racked up a staggering 5.5 billion streams, securing its position as the top video destination on the Web.

Still, viewership is never the whole story for media companies, and, while YouTube has hardly realized its full earnings potential, Hulu's business model faces its own unique challenges.

Critics and rivals still insist that Hulu simply does not run enough advertising to support the production of premium content.

"The user experience is fantastic, but there isn't a business model," David Verklin, former head of agency Carat, and now CEO of cable consortium Canoe Ventures, recently told attendees of Media Magazine's 2009 Upfront Conference. "It's not an effective business model at four minutes (of advertising) an hour."

Screen Digest analyst Arash Amel, meanwhile, recently revised his 2009 earnings forecast for Hulu down from $180 million to $120 million.

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