Citing the ever popular “people briefed on the matter,” the New York Times ran a piece last night revealing Hulu’s possible plan to go public. According to those sources, Hulu has been visiting investment banks in preparation for a possible IPO–and the company could be valued at over $2 billion.
There are really no more facts to be had, but there’s still some worth in analyzing the situation in which Hulu finds itself. Streaming video is booming, without a doubt, and Hulu is at the forefront of that. But Hulu barely ekes out a profit (though admittedly that’s much better than YouTube’s consistent yearly loss), a problem that leads to a sticky circular situation in which content providers become less happy with their cashflow, those content providers pull content, Hulu gets fewer viewers because of the lack of content, and the cycle continues.
That’s the kind of problem Hulu Plus is supposed to help alleviate–the $10 per month subscription service collects revenue both from the monthly fee and from the ads that can’t be skipped. The New York Times notes that Hulu’s viewership also “plummeted” from 43.5 million in May to 24 million in June, although a large part of that must be due to the fact that the traditional TV series schedule ends in May. Finales air in May, and bring out huge numbers of viewers, and then the season ends and shows go into a rerun cycle.
We heard this rumor a few months ago–check out Kit’s excellent post on the subject for more information on the company’s financial standing–and not much has changed in the interim. It’s totally plausible, though the New York Times expresses some doubts that it would be particularly successful, calling the IPO market “soft.”