Hulu – where User is king

“We are passionate in our opinion that the world has long since exceeded its quota in the mediocrity department.” – this is how Hulu’s mission statement begins.

Hulu was skeptically criticized when it was first launched – who could have imagined they would be able to pull it off?

Here are the main characteristics I believe led to their success:

1. They understood their context. Hulu founder Kilar believed a platform for servicing quality content online was long overdue. The market was there, just waiting to be serviced. Hulu was built to fill a need, to resolve a frustration.

The challenges? They needed to build a quality platform that would attract and gain the trust of big-time advertisers that traditionally invested their enormous budgets on TV. YouTube was already servicing online video and gathering a huge audience — the potential was already there. But the need was also there – for a place online to access the shows produced by the networks.

2. They pay attention to their users. From day one, Hulu prioritized what their users needed and responded to their desires. They did nothing based on how they believed the problem should be solved but rather focused on tailoring to their users’ requests – paying close attention to user feedback.

3. They evolved with the changing market. Hulu originally provided a 100% free online video stream of syndicated content. Today, it works on a hybrid model whereby the most recently aired shows are free while back episodes or entire seasons are accessible via a subscription. An adapted model. And they can charge CPMs estimated at 50% higher than TV networks. Wow. So they’ve really pulled it off.

And, last but not least, the golden ticket as Kilar put it: “When we developed our mission, we were very careful to make sure that it did not spell out our business model.”

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