A year after its official launch, Hulu thinks its time it made some friends. The NBCU/News Corp (NYSE: NWS). video site is adding a social network, called Hulu Friends, joining its smaller rivals CBS' TV.com and Joost, WSJ reports. Users will be able to create their own profiles, which Hulu believes will encourage more sharing of its videos. Whether that will lead to significantly more viewingand more advertising revenue in turnis an open question. More importantly, the direct sharing of video preferences and content within Hulu will make it much more easy to track what individuals are watching and hence, make them more targetable for ads. Strangely, WSJ makes a point of saying that by broadening its identity as a social net, it could somehow diminish cable networks' fears that Hulu is eroding their value by making consumers less reliant on subscribing to its channels. If anything, this would only seem to enhance Hulu's attractiveness to viewers by offering connections that cable providers would have great difficulty. Still, it remains to be seen how many users would want to join a social net centered around general video entertainment as opposed to more narrow interests.
By David Kaplan