Behind the Numbers: Jumping Through Hoops

Hulu appeals to advertisers after the young and relentless

One of the hardest-to-reach audiences on appointment TV is actually pretty darn easy to find on Hulu, a site that aggregates episodes of current shows and nostalgia series. That's the conclusion of a report from Solutions Research Group, which found that while only 15% of online Americans have even heard of Hulu, those who do use the site hail from a desirable demo. Who cares that the other 85% still don't know Hulu from hula?

The average age of a Hulu user is 32, 10 years younger than the average online American, the study found. About two-thirds of users are male, and more than half of users are between 12 and 29. The income of Hulu users is 22% higher than the U.S. average. Hulu users are also more likely to own laptops, smartphones and video-capable MP3 players. Specifically, 68% have a laptop, 30% have a smartphone (twice the U.S. average) and 74% play console video games. They are three times more likely than the average schmo to consider buying the new generation iPhone.

"The very audience that's proving elusive in linear is right up there," says Kaan Yigit, an analyst with Solutions Research Group.

Advertisers have even more to cheer about. Hulu users say they pay attention to ads more than the average online American does. About 39% said they "frequently paid attention to ads seen online," compared to only 20% of online Americans in general. "This is not surprising, as search-driven broadband video more closely meets what the user really wants, and therefore, they are more attentive," Yigit says.

The receptiveness might also stem from users' fondness for the site's features. Hulu users say they like the ability to search and find old episodes and newer ones. They also like that Hulu is free, and that it operates sort of like a digital video recorder, letting them catch up on shows they missed.

Yigit says he was surprised by the high praise because Hulu offers only a limited amount of episodes. The site typically features only a few recent episodes of certain shows. In fact, that's a common complaint. Message-board postings about the service are dotted with minirants about the lack of back episodes. But that was the only significant complaint in the study, Yigit says, and the ability to search outweighed the dearth of episodes.
Hulu users also like to hang out on YouTube. Not surprisingly, YouTube dwarfs Hulu in awareness and usage - nearly every American knows of YouTube. and three in four online Americans use the site occasionally. A lot of those visitors are Hulu users: 90% of Hulu users have been to YouTube in the past month and 70% in the past week. "Hulu users are heavy, frequent online video viewers and obviously like the search-and-watch functionality on the Web," Yigit says.

Other research firms report similar demographics for Hulu users. For the four-week period ending July 19, online audience measurement firm Hitwise reported that about 58% of Hulu users were men and 42% women. About 56% of visitors during that time were in the 18-to-44-age range. Over at YouTube, about 45% are 25 to 44, and the site is evenly divided between men and women.

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