Hulu's CEO Jason Kilar is on stage at the Dive Into Media conference and just as with Twitter yesterday, he's discussing the complex place Hulu sits in between content owners and users. Kilar says that Hulu has to "thread the needle" of serving both content owners and users, going so far as to say that Hulu actually has four categories of customers: "Team Members, End Users, Advertisers, Content Partners." While it's nice of him to include Hulu's own employees there, we imagine that the tougher negotiations come from the other customers. In those negotiations, Kilar is unapologetic about making sure Hulu serves all of them equally. In fact, he calls it a "cop out" to "focus on one customer, the end user." That's not something end users are likely pleased to hear, but it's a reality of Hulu's business, which provides content from the big studios. Kilar say that Hulu has to "delight and serve content owners just as much as we serve users" and in that vein, he points out that he tries to keep Hulu's margins low in order to be "extremely generous" to the studios.
That generosity extends to accepting terms like 8-day delays before new shows appear on Hulu, and delays of this sort is also something Netflix has had to contend with. Hulu Plus subscribers can still skip the delay and Kilar believes that subscription revenue will make up the majority of its revenue in short order. That service is also the only way to ensure you can access Hulu on multiple, different devices and Kilar is also realistic about how silly the distinctions between tablets, laptops, smartphones, and television sets are — "I wouldn't be surprised if our grandkids chuckle at this."
However, in the short term it looks like Hulu will still need to make those arbitrary distinctions. Given Hulu's difficult position between content owners and users, the dream of Hulu providing content to any device may have to wait until "our grandkids" are around.