Hulu is forecasting sales of close to half a billion dollars and more than a million Hulu Plus subscribers this year.
In a blog posted yesterday, CEO Jason Kilar marked the end of the first quarter with some notable figures and projections about the company's recent past and upcoming future.
The forecast of almost $500 million in sales for the year follows the first quarter in which revenue shot up around 90 percent compared with last year's initial quarter, according to Kilar. For 2010 as a whole, Hulu took in sales of $263 million.
Touting the expected rise in Hulu Plus subscribers to more than a million this year after the pay option launched last summer, Kilar said that as far as he knows, this marks the fastest start of any online video subscription service.
Of course, Hulu Plus has faced a. Its initial $9.95 price tag, the inclusion of ads, and the limited selection compared with Netflix triggered complaints among many users. Competing against the likes of Netflix, Hulu was forced to to $7.99 in November.
In an effort to expand its offerings, Kilar pointed out that Hulu increased its number of content partners to 264 in this year's first quarter, up from the 211 partners it had during the same time period a year ago. During that time, the company saw ups and down with its partners. Viacomamid concerns that the partnership wasn't yielding enough revenue. However, a between the two in February has since allowed Viacom shows from MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, and other cable channels to appear on Hulu and Hulu Plus.
Hulu's "content community" is expected to earn around $300 million over the course of the year, said Kilar. The service is also boasting more advertisers: 289 for the first quarter of 2011 compared with 194 in the same quarter last year.
Despite Hulu's rosy results so far this year and Kilar's positive forecast, the company and its CEO are in the midst of some challenges.
Reports have arisen about tension between Hulu and its owners, NBC Universal, Disney, and News Corp. Hulu and its parents have reportedly longof Hulu's basic business model, such as how much content should be free. Certain content providers themselves have also reportedly complained that Hulu brings in too little revenue and disrupts their other forms of distribution. Kilar almost certainly added fuel to the fire in February with a in which he criticized traditional TV advertising and distribution.