Last month Hulu delivered over 1.22 billion video ads to users, which is more than all the video ads seen on Google, AOL, and Microsoft video sites—combined. The streaming-TV service also boasted a higher ad frequency than its online competitors, with the average viewer consuming 217.1 minutes of video per month and watching 47.1 ads, reports comScore.
According to Tubefilter, that means Hulu shows an ad every 4 minutes and 37 seconds, an increase of 15% since October. Is Hulu showing too many ads?
Compared with other digital services, Hulu is certainly showing more ads—but that's not necessarily a fair comparison. Hulu prides itself on high-quality content, which is paid for through advertisements (and helps support the costs of Hulu's premium Plus service). Many of the other sites tracked by comScore—YouTube, namely—offer mostly user-generated content, which costs nothing more than bandwidth to deliver.
And while an ad every 4 minutes may feel excessive in the digital realm, it's still far less frequent than traditional TV. Averages vary, but it's commonly understood that for every 30 minutes of programming, there will be 8 minutes of ads—a commercial break every 3 minutes and 45 seconds. Moreover, Hulu delivers less ads per break than traditional TV, with one or two commercials shown each intermission, which can generally range from 30 to 60 seconds.
According to Hulu, the company never delivers more than 50% of the ads shown on traditional TV, and more often than not, the ad load is closer to 25% of what you'd see on television.
Perhaps that's why Hulu has taken so many viewers away from traditional television, while still managing to pull in $260 million in revenue in 2010.