NBC's lowly fourth-place position among TV networks is in direct counterpoint to its growing Internet video position.
Glowing press reviews of NBC Universal and News Corp's joint-venture Internet video Web site, Hulu.com, now promise even better news. With some $70 million in total revenues -- virtually all advertising revenues -- Hulu's numbers are getting close to, dare we say, YouTube.
We are talking about advertising numbers. Though Hulu has some 6 million average monthly users, that can't come close to YouTube's 83 million monthly users (almost 14 times Hulu's stats.) But the real story is, at $100 million, YouTube only pulls in $30 million more than Hulu in advertising revenues.
Financial fanatics of YouTube will be sorry to know that next year Hulu is expected to equal YouTube in total gross revenuu, according to research firm Screen Digest, which estimates that both will make about $180 million then.
Blame traditional, stodgy TV advertisers if you like. Or, blame the fact that YouTube still isn't up to snuff. Big advertisers seem to feel safe at Hulu because it looks like television. YouTube still has that independent video community feel to it where, like it or not, weird ad associations can go wrong.
Even though YouTube has created separate channels for mainstream content providers -- MGM and Lionsgate, for example - the bulk of its draw continues to be with those sometimes scratchy-looking videos that often draw a crowd, buzz and finally some big press headlines.
The power of Google shouldn't be denied. For, sometime, down the road, its biggest riddle will continue to be figuring how to monetize YouTube's content and the $1.6 billion price tag it paid for the company.
NBC/News Corp's Hulu financial plan is much more simple -- just to grow the business from essentially its own library of TV programming, and/or add other TV producers. That is no puzzle.