Hulu Turns One, Adds Social Networking Features, Overtakes Yahoo and MySpace

1 min read

Hulu has turned one, having come out of private beta last March. In that time it has risen the ranks and started competing with the big boys. With the addition of new social networking elements, Hulu’s rise to the top could start to accelerate.

Hulu Has History

Hulu originally launched in October 2007 with the private beta testing phase lasting for six months. In March, 2008 Hulu launched properly, becoming available to all residents of the United States with a computer and broadband Internet connection.

Since then, the site has evolved, although 12 months down the line, it’s still only available to folks living in the States. Which annoys me greatly.

Social Networking Features

A new set of social networking features have now quietly been rolled out onto the site. Hulu had already added some new features last September, such as searching by genre, specialized topic channels, show recommendations, and discussion forums, possibly as a result of Joost doing similar. But these new features are on a grander scale.

Hulu users can now create a profile, add friends, find new friends through Facebook and Gmail, recommend shows to other people, leave messages on people’s virtual walls, and review and rate shows. All of which shows up on a user’s activity stream.

Competition For YouTube

These features are in direct competition with the communities based around both YouTube and, the latter of which lost Hulu programming last month. There’s a distinct chance that the imminent roll out of these features was the reason for those ties being broken.

The last year has also seen the site add a lot of new content, with the 12,000 available at launch now rising to 40,000. Content partners have also grown in that time, rising from 50 to over 130. The number of advertisers has also grown, going from 30 to the current 175. More stats on Hulu’s first year can be found on this blog post celebrating the first anniversary.

Number Two

Hulu has garnered a lot of new fans as a result. This has seen Hulu rise up the rankings of online video sites. According to AdAge, Hulu is now the number two site in the U.S.

While it’s still along way behind the number one that is YouTube, a recent surge in traffic in part due to the brilliant Super Bowl advert starring Alec Baldwin saw it shoot to second place. This takes it past the established online video sites of MySpace and Yahoo, at least according to Nielsen Online’s VideoCensus.

As impressive as this is, there is little chance of Hulu challenging YouTube for the crown anytime soon. Hulu managed 309 million video views in February, while YouTube managed an astonishing 5.2 billion. However, the number of eyes watching aren’t everything, and we’ve looked before at how Hulu is managing to make as much revenue as YouTube with a fraction of the viewers.


Hulu has grown faster than most analysts predicted, and its rise is unlikely to slow down. As the site becomes more widely known about and features to appeal to the mainstream are added, so the viewer numbers will climb. Hopefully, Hulu will then decide to break out of its self-restricted borders and embrace the rest of the world. Then YouTube will have something to worry about.