Is Hulu headed for trouble?

The streaming site's 41-year old CEO resigns and takes the chief technology officer with him. Meanwhile, the site's big-media owners are locked in a debate over strategy.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 7, 2013 1:50PM

Image: Couple with laptop (Corbis)Hulu, the upstart online streaming site that's owned by three of the biggest U.S. media companies, may be headed for trouble with the departure of its chief executive, according to a report in the New York Times.


Jason Kilar, 41, announced his resignation on Friday without giving a reason for his departure. Kilar wrote in a blog post on Friday that he's leaving with Hulu's chief technology officer, Rich Tom. Although he didn't say what's next for the duo, he wrote in a blog post that after building a business for the past several years, "our plan is to do more of that on the road ahead."


Their departure, however, might mean a rocky road ahead for Hulu. The company has balanced the demands of its subscribers -- who pay $7.99 a month to stream new and classic TV shows and movies -- with those of its owners: Walt Disney (DIS), News Corp. (NWS) and Comcast (CMCSA).


That's creates some friction, since those media companies also own three of the top broadcast networks (ABC, Fox and NBC, respectively.) If Hulu gains in popularity, that might translate into lower TV viewership and advertising dollars from the networks. 


Kilar was seen as an effective advocate for Hulu, taking on board members -- who also happen to be network executives -- to argue for continued investment in the streaming site, according to the Times.


Hulu's owners, which don't always agree on the site's direction, are currently in an "intense debate" over whether the service should rely on ads or subscriptions, reports the Wall Street Journal. Last month, Kilar asked the owners to invest $200 million to buy more programming, double its partners' contributions from a year earlier, the story notes. 


In the meantime, Kilar is considered to be a possible hire in either Silicon Valley or in the venture capital world, according to the New York Post, which adds that he was awarded a $6 million year-end bonus on top of a $40 million payout for his Hulu stake last October.


"He defied enormous odds, built from scratch one of the top five digital video brands, created two viable and growing businesses (free and pay) and got his well-deserved payday -- not bad for five years' work," J. B. Perrette, a Discovery Communications executive who formerly helped oversee NBC's stake in Hulu, told the Times.


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2Comments
Jan 7, 2013 3:35PM
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Hulu   they don't have an ap that lets you surf titles easily.  I joined but quit after about 2 weeks.
Jan 8, 2013 12:40PM
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I've had Hulu Plus for about a year which I'm going to cancel, why should you pay 7.99 for plus and still have to watch advertisement and there are  shows such as Sons of Anarchy they dont show.

Done with Hulu Plus

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