Hulu revenue doubles to $240 million

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Hulu now reaches 30 million viewers a month, and Zynga's games draw a bigger daily audience than the New York Times.

At a pair of rival conferences in New York and San Francisco this week, tech and media executives gathered to hash out the implications of those new realities.

Hulu's growth rocket: Tech blog GigaOm kicked off its New TeeVee Live conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. In his keynote speech, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar spilled new stats on the video streaming service.

Hulu is expecting $240 million in revenue for 2010 -- a huge jump from the $108 million it took in last year and the $25 million it generated in 2008.

Much of that revenue comes from advertising. Kilar cited a Nielsen study showing that ads on Hulu are 55% more effective than those on traditional platforms like cable and broadcast.

Hulu's success has spawned rumors that the company may be looking to go public, but Kilar would not comment on the prospect of an IPO.

Zynga rules social gaming: Game developer Zynga wasn't at the Digital Hollywood conference in New York, but the company still overtook a panel discussion about the social gaming arena.

"Zynga has gotten so big that it's basically a media company that happens to have games," said Alex Rampell, chief executive of online payment platform TrialPay.

Zynga, whose games include FarmVille, FishVille and Mafia Wars, grew huge thanks in part to infamously spammy tactics. The company once piled users' Facebook pages with a constant barrage of game notifications, which helped it lure in more players.

Facebook has since curtailed such methods, but Zynga's head start made it difficult for other developers to catch up.

"It's not about the game itself -- you can buy a Farmville clone for $2,000 from China," said Mike Lu, director of product at game maker RockYou. "But Zynga has so many users that they have a huge platform to advertise to specifically."

The panelists agreed that 99 cents seems to be the sweet spot for mobile games, although there may be some room for a higher price point on tablet apps.

Old media, meet new tech: A separate panel on focused on the best ways to bring magazine and newspaper content to devices like smartphones and tablets. Zynga came up yet again.

"Zynga touches more people every day than the New York Times," said Kenny Miller, founder of creative consultant firm theKMco. "Not to make a judgment, but it's just a fact. So what do we do with those kinds of facts?"

Advertisers are still figuring out the answer to that question, said Audrey Siegel, co-founder of communications company TargetCast: "Individual magazine publishers can tell us people spent X minutes reading an issue on their tablet, but that doesn't tell us much."

"We need time to absorb all this data as these devices become more of a habit," she added. "As an advertiser, I can't buy ads based on data I can't measure and replicate myself."

The panelists mostly reacted angrily when an audience member questioned the ability of traditional media to make a smooth, profitable transition to an ever-changing digital world.

"TV didn't replace radio, and digital's not going to replace media that came before," Siegel said. "But things will change."

Lincoln Millstein, an exec at the digital section of Hearst Magazines, went even further: "The tablet is the best thing to come along for advertising since the television."

-- CNNMoney executive video producer Caleb Silver contributed to this report. To top of page

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