Hulu's audience grew 20 percent in March over the previous monthand it is now within striking distance of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), the third-largest video site by monthly unique viewers.
Google's YouTube is still the runaway video leader with 100 million viewers who watch about 150 minutes of videos per month. But its struggles selling ads on the videos (some estimate less than 10 percent have ads in their streams) are no secret. Many observers believe that Hulu is in a better position to sell premium ads since its videos are professional versus Google's mostly amateur clips (though some argue that Hulu, too, is struggling to sell those ads.) A bigger video audience would mean more inventory for Hulu to sell.
According to the latest comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) numbers, Hulu increased its monthly unique viewers to 41.6 million in March, up from 34.7 million in February. That's just one million fewer than Yahoo (with 42.5 million viewers)only a month ago, it trailed Yahoo by seven million viewers. Hulu far surpasses Yahoo in terms of minutes each viewer spends on the site per month57.9 (down from 64.5 minutes in February) versus 13.3. But that is likely due to the fact that Yahoo's videos are predominantly several-minute clips, versus Hulu's 30-minute to hour-long TV programs.
YouTube, in a bid to seduce more premium advertisers, recently started beefing up the amount of professional content on its site. It has added content from Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures, Disney (NYSE: DIS), CBS (NYSE: CBS), MGM, Lions Gate, Current TV, Discovery (NSDQ: DISAB) and others.
By Rory Maher