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TV Just Got A Whole Lot More Social

July 1st, 2011 by Betina Chan-Martin Product Manager

(For updates on the latest news around the Hulu Facebook Connect integration, please go here: http://blog.hulu.com/2011/07/01/hulu-facebook-connect-update)

Do you remember when?

I knew Dwight’s stint as manager of the Scranton office would end with hilarious results. But did I see that coming? Not in a million years. But of course, the moment he strutted out with his holster (and gun!), it was clear that Dwight’s dream would come to an end with explosive results. And when the gun went off—luckily damaging only Andy’s hearing—I immediately jumped on Facebook to see what my friends had to say. Of course, this exact moment was the talk of Hulu in the morning.

TV has always been a social experience. We gather with friends and family to watch our favorite shows, sporting events, movies, and news. When we get to work, we meet around the water cooler and chat about Tracy Jordan’s latest stunt in the previous night’s 30 Rock. We text each other during the results of The Voice, and we blog about the latest politician skewered in Jon Stewart’s opening monologue.

Today, we are making the Hulu experience even more social with Facebook on Hulu.

Interact. We are excited to announce a new feature that is the first-of-its-kind and one that we think will become a staple at Hulu going forward. One of the most exciting features we are launching today is the ability to comment on a specific moment in time while watching any video on Hulu, and with one click, instantly share those remarks — and the relevant video moment from the program — on Facebook for all your friends to see. When you comment on a Hulu video, that exact moment will appear on Facebook so your friends can jump in and react right away. And since friends can respond to your comments, you can have those water cooler conversations online at any time. We’ve been using this feature in test mode here at Hulu HQ for a bit…and we are officially addicted. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Personalize. Now you can easily log on to Hulu—or create a new account—using your Facebook account. From there, you’ll be able to interact with all of your Facebook friends. You’ll log into a homepage tailored to you, where you can see your friends’ favorite shows, and start conversations with anybody who follows the same shows you do.

Discover. I discovered some of my favorite shows (like Coupling—the UK version, of course) because a friend recommended them. With Facebook on Hulu, you can introduce your friends to shows you’re rooting for, and discover new favorites with the help of your friends, too.

Connect. To link your Hulu and Facebook accounts, use the “Connect” button on your next visit to Hulu. Or visit http://www.hulu.com.

The entire social experience on Hulu is being supported by our partners at Coors Light and Microsoft’s decision engine Bing. Bing is also providing a free 1-month Hulu Plus subscription to users who make the decision to “go social” by signing up for Facebook on Hulu.

We’re very excited about the above efforts which we believe make TV fundamentally more social. Let us know what you think!

Last comment: about 7 hours ago 32 Comments

Working in the Future

June 13th, 2011 by John Foster Head of Talent and Organization

Whenever I wear my official Hulu jacket, people stop me to ask, “What’s it like to work at Hulu?” And I usually smile and think, “Dude, you have no idea!” And then I say something like, “Imagine being on a rocket-powered roller coaster with lots of surprise tunnels and unexpected turns.” It’s hard to convey the electric vibe of being on a team that is building a revolutionary service in a transforming industry, full of worthy competitors and complex partnerships. It’s like working in the future, when it’s not actually here yet. There is no flat or normal. It’s rapid-fire building. It’s spurts of anticipation. It’s bursts of speed that make your stomach jump in your throat. And for me, it’s an awesome job.

In just over three years, Hulu has become a hotbed of innovation from a business and technical perspective. So it makes sense that job candidates and press alike are increasingly interested in how we do stuff inside Hulu. Recently, Fast Company detailed our company culture, “Best Jobs Ever” profiled us, and Seattle Met Magazine did a writeup on our new Seattle development office as part of their 2011 “Best Places to Work … and Play” issue. And on top of all of that, WorldBlu has certified Hulu as a “democratic workplace.” Through all of this coverage, we’ve started to clarify a few things about what we are doing, and since we get asked about our culture and approach to management so often, I thought it would be good to put it out there for anyone who is curious about Hulu “behind the scenes.”

What type of people work at Hulu?
We are builders, entrepreneurs, and innovators, driven to surprise and delight our customers with a premium quality entertainment experience. We believe that who we hire is the single most important decision we make on a continual basis, so when looking for new “Hulugans,” we view candidates through two lenses:

    • 1. We hire for values. As detailed in “What Defines Hulu,” our values are real and ever-present. We look for people who obsess over quality and customer service. They trade stories of greatness in these areas like some people discuss sports. And, we look for people who have a relentless desire for finding better ways of doing whatever it is they do.

 

  • 2. We hire extraordinary people. We look for people who have developed and demonstrated an extraordinary ability that is of value to our team. Every team member shares a deeply held belief that his or her individual efforts are not sufficient to accomplish our mission. From this extraordinary ability and sincere belief, Hulugans are humble and collaborative by nature, in the face of our audacious goals.

As we grow to meet the challenges ahead, we need the best and brightest talent on the Internet. Every Hulugan is expected to apply his or her unique skills to build something that makes it easier for people to find, enjoy and share the world’s premium content. Hulu has a small team of people who have excelled in a diverse array of both startup and corporate environments to give us speed, strength, and agility in our mission. Check out the video we created to capture the spirit of working at Hulu:

How do we get work done?
There are several patterns in how we work that are critical to our success so far:

    • - Teams solve difficult problems better than individuals. We believe in small teams and big ideas, and that familiarity breeds innovation. Our teams are not just a format for working together, they are the best way to manage the ambiguity and uncertainty inherent in our business.

 

    • - Freedom to build. We maintain an open and creative environment at the office — it’s energetic, fun, and a little bit chaotic. And very productive. Everyone has the freedom to provide input into what work we do and how we do it. We depend on the great judgment, healthy debate, and entrepreneurial work ethic of our people to keep our work sensible, prioritized, and on track.

 

    • - Interesting work leads to growth. People do their best work when it’s interesting and challenging; and this naturally results in personal and professional growth. Hulugans appreciate the chance to employ and hone multiple skill sets and are encouraged to tackle new things that help both Hulu and each other grow.

 

    • - Reward great work with bigger challenges. Every Hulugan has the opportunity to take ownership of a project and make it bigger and better. This is what meritocracy looks like in action: do well, keep going, earn credibility, get more responsibility.

 

  • - We are part of something bigger. We believe in giving back. We fully support and are a vibrant part of the larger community. Our developers work on many open source projects and have built much of our infrastructure using open tech stacks. We strive to make improvements in the communities where we live through individual and group philanthropy projects.

What is the work environment like?
We’ve constructed a workplace that supports a balance between three work modes: heads down focus, active collaboration, and serendipitous interaction. This means nobody gets an office to hide in, but we have lots of private conference rooms for spirited debate and creative whiteboarding. We have generous amounts of open communal space where Hulugans break out, relax, and play around, because we know that creative minds are more effective when they have regular distractions. Our kitchen is in the center of everything to encourage regular visits and spur connection.* When you enter our office, the first thing you notice is a wall of portraits with every team member showing off a bit of his or her personality. From this gigantic photo wall, even a casual visitor will quickly notice that our people are our most precious asset.

What benefits does Hulu provide?
Everyone who works for Hulu owns a part of the company. Thus, our benefits reflect an “ownership” culture, which means that we treat each other as high-judgment owners who can make decisions as owners. Here’s a couple of examples:

    • - “Be Well:” Everyone on our team may expense up to $600 per year on “being well.” This means different things to different people. If training for a marathon helps one person be well, but signing up for a yoga class helps another person be well, then they each can expense up to $600 annually on that activity.

 

  • - “Take the time off you need to perform at your best:” As a start-up, our team works really hard. And within our ownership culture, it is strange to dictate how many days someone can take for vacation or a personal day. Rather than have no time off policy, our team told us they need a target to aim for so they don’t feel bad leaving their team behind. So we set our policy to a minimum of 32 paid days off, and team members may take additional time as needed by discussing with their manager.

We strive to do anything and everything to make Hulu a place where builders come to build great things. This is a standard measured by the builders themselves, who are passionate and relentless in their desire to always make things better. And that is what we mean when we say we have an “ownership” culture. We are our own best critics and as a team we are all improving Hulu together.

If you liked what you just read, and are interested in joining us, please check out our jobs page.

* We have done extensive research to determine that Hulugans are strongly attracted to free food.

Last comment: about 7 hours ago 7 Comments

Hulu Plus Launches Out of Preview for $7.99/month

November 17th, 2010 by Jason Kilar CEO

Since we released the Hulu Plus subscription service as a preview in July, the Hulu team has been hard at work extending the device footprint, refining existing applications, and adding to the content lineup, all while listening to feedback from our users, content partners, and advertisers.

I am happy to announce that today we are launching the Hulu Plus subscription service out of preview. With this launch, we are proud to offer our users the only subscription service with the full current season of hit TV shows like Glee, Modern Family, The Office, House, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy, and more, with minimal ad-load, across computers, TVs, mobile phones, and tablets.

We’ve always been committed to providing our users the best value possible in all of our offerings, and we’re excited to announce several milestones in that goal for Hulu Plus.

First, the monthly price for Hulu Plus moving forward is just $7.99. Any current subscribers who joined during our preview period will receive a credit for the difference from the $9.99 preview price. This credit will automatically be applied to their next billing cycle.

Hulu Plus is now available on devices that have an installed base of over 50 million. Today, Hulu Plus launches on Roku. All PlayStation 3 owners with a PlayStation Network account, which is free, can download the Hulu Plus application. In the months to come, Hulu Plus will be coming to Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player, with many more mobile phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and Internet-connected devices to be announced.

We haven’t forgotten about our existing device lineup and applications, either. Over the next week, updates to the Samsung, PlayStation 3, and Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch Hulu Plus apps will be available, bringing a variety of bug fixes and feature and performance enhancements.

Now that the fall TV season is underway, Hulu Plus is the only subscription service to offer every episode of new shows from ABC, Fox, and NBC, including Raising Hope, No Ordinary Family, and The Event, in addition to established favorites like House, Glee, and Modern Family. We’ve also added back seasons of hit shows including Monk, Psych, and Battlestar Galactica, and by year-end, the lineup will include every episode from all 36 seasons of Saturday Night Live.

We realize that for many users, Hulu Plus represents a markedly new way to keep up with their favorite TV shows. To make it as easy and risk-free as possible for users to try out this service, we’re pleased to share the following special offers:

    One free week trials for all new subscribers. In addition, current subscribers who joined during the preview period will receive a credit for one week of Hulu Plus toward their next month’s subscription.
    Two free weeks of Hulu Plus for both current subscribers and friends they invite through our referral program. Subscribers can learn more by clicking on the “Referrals” tab on their Hulu profile page.
    11 weeks ($20 worth) of free Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Sony BRAVIA connected TV or Blu-ray player through January 31, 2011. (See sony.com/huluplus.)
    One free month of Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Roku device through December 15, 2010. (See roku.com/hulu.)

We’re highly encouraged by the response we’ve received to the Hulu Plus service during the preview period. Though the service has only been in preview for part of this year, Hulu Plus is already accounting for a material percentage of Hulu’s overall business. But we’re even more excited about where we plan to take the service in the months and years to come. This is just one more step in the journey to reinvent TV. We hope you’ll join us.

Jason Kilar
CEO, Hulu

Last comment: Feb 2nd 2011 23 Comments

Hello Seattle

September 16th, 2010 by Richard Tom VP, Platform Technology

Perhaps when you think of Seattle your taste buds prepare themselves for a freshly brewed espresso or a not-so-simple soy-decaf-single-shot-one-pump-vanilla-iced-latte. Or perhaps Seattle conjures images of the halls of Seattle Grace Hospital, where lives are saved and relationships flatline. Or maybe, if you’re like me, your thoughts rush to Cuban sandwiches at Paseo, the inspiring view at Gasworks Park, and the incredible engineering and startup communities that thrive in this rainy Emerald City.

As someone who called Seattle my home for nearly eight years, I’m truly excited to announce that Hulu will be opening a development center in Seattle by the end of the year.

While most people think of TV shows when they think of Hulu, at Hulu we pride ourselves in being a technology company first and foremost. Over the last year, we’ve scaled our service to handle over 30 million users and over 1 billion streams per month. We’ve architected a content distribution platform to store, transcode, and deliver petabytes of video on commodity hardware. We even managed to launch our own video ad server while building a subscription service that provides users with unfettered access to their favorite shows on PCs, TVs, gaming consoles, and mobile devices.

But despite all our progress to date, our toughest and most interesting technical challenges continue to lie ahead of us. The online video experience today is only a fraction of what we think it can and should be, and we’re looking for talented people who, like us, are inspired to invent the future.

We’ve always known that Hulu is defined by its people and its culture. We believe that the talented engineers of the Seattle area embody our philosophy, and we have firsthand knowledge to back that up: nearly 50 percent of our developers in Los Angeles were once Seattleites building enterprise database servers, operating systems and web frameworks.

Rest assured we will leave no coffee shop unchecked and no coffee bean unturned as we search for the brightest and best software developers out there. If you’re one of them and are interested in a new adventure, stop over at our job site or ping me at .

Richard Tom
VP, Platform Technology

Last comment: about 8 hours ago 7 Comments

Introducing Hulu Plus: More wherever. More whenever. Than ever.

June 29th, 2010 by Jason Kilar CEO

Everyone on the Hulu team shares three things in common. I’ll cover two of those immediately. We’ll get to the last one at the end of this post.

First, we are proud to say that we love TV shows. TV shows entertain billions of people across the globe and are among the most durable, high quality forms of storytelling in our society. TV shows play a significant role in billions of people’s daily routines.

Second, we believe that the TV show experience — while already great — has the opportunity to be even better. We have great conviction that consumers should be able to watch the TV shows they’d like to watch, whenever they want to watch them, wherever they want to watch them. The Hulu team has taken that conviction and built a very special service we’re calling Hulu Plus. The Hulu Plus service is our answer to the question of “What if your favorite TV shows loved you back?”

Hulu Plus is not a replacement for Hulu.com. Hulu Plus is a new, revolutionary ad-supported subscription product that is incremental and complementary to the existing Hulu service. For almost all of the current broadcast shows on our service, Hulu Plus offers the full season. Every single episode of the current season will be available, not just a handful of trailing episodes. Now there’s never a bad time to jump in on a hot new show like Modern Family (which I recommend highly). From Family Guy to Glee, from The Office to 30 Rock, from Grey’s Anatomy to Desperate Housewives, from Parks & Recreation to Parenthood, from House to Saturday Night Live, and dozens of other hits, the best time to jump in on any series is any time, and with any episode, that’s right for you.

As a Hulu Plus subscriber, you’ll now also have access to back seasons or full runs of some of TV’s greatest shows. All nine seasons of The X-Files. All three seasons of Arrested Development. Ten seasons of Law and Order: SVU. All five seasons of Ally McBeal. Seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and three seasons of Roswell. Every episode ever of Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. Classic skits from the first five and most recent five seasons of Saturday Night Live. The list goes on. This is all on top of hundreds of shows already on Hulu.com today. It’s a treasure chest in the cloud for TV lovers.

How can someone watch all these TV shows? The only possible way is if someone could pull up these shows wherever they were, on whatever device they happened to have available. That’s why we’re excited to announce that Hulu Plus subscribers can now watch their favorites through more than just the browser on their Mac or PC.

Let’s start in your living room. You’re sitting down for dinner, and you’d like to pull Hulu up on your TV. Today you’d have to plug a computer into the TV and try to connect the audio from your computer to your sound system. It’s certainly doable, but it’s not as easy as it could be. Starting today, Hulu Plus subscribers who own select Samsung Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players can download a Hulu Plus application from the Samsung app store and start streaming Hulu Plus directly.

Now let’s say you migrate from the living room to your den or bedroom or patio where you don’t have a TV. You can always pull up Hulu Plus on your laptop, but starting today you can access Hulu content via Wi-Fi or 3G on another device: the Apple iPad. I’ve been watching Hulu on my iPad for several weeks now, and I’ve watched more TV through the iPad than any other device.

Now let’s head out of the house and onto the road. Wouldn’t it be nice if, while you were waiting for your coffee order at the local cafe, you could finish watching that episode you started watching that morning on your iPad? Starting today, if you’re a Hulu Plus subscriber and you own an iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 or third-generation iPod Touch, you can.

The Hulu Plus app on the iPhone streams over 3G and Wi-Fi. It’s TV shows in the palm of your hand. A spare five minutes will never be as boring again. You can start watching a show on your HDTV one night, pick up where you left off on your laptop at lunch, watch another chunk on the bus ride home on your iPhone, and finish watching in bed on your iPad. The time to watch your favorite shows is any time you want.

These are the devices shipping with Hulu Plus today. But this is just the first step in our mission to bring you TV wherever you are. We are already hard at work on porting Hulu Plus to other devices and platforms, with PlayStation 3 coming soon. But that’s a story for another day.

More content. More devices. But that’s not all. We want to take full advantage of beautiful display devices like your HDTV connected to your Samsung Blu-ray player, or your iPad. So for all Hulu Plus subscribers, we’ll now stream all native HD content in 720p high definition.

The last question, and an obvious one, is how much this costs. We wanted Hulu Plus to be priced for as many people as possible. We’re thrilled to be able to bring all of this to you for the price of just $9.99 a month.

How do you sign up for Hulu Plus? Starting today, we’re issuing invitations to become a Hulu Plus subscriber. If you’re interested, you can request an invitation here. To ensure we’re offering the best experience for all our Hulu Plus customers, we’ll be sending out invitations in waves [hint: if you follow Hulu on Twitter ( www.twitter.com/hulu) or “Like” Hulu on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/hulu), we’ll be handing out invites to a random set from each of those groups from time to time over the coming months]. We’ll be sending out as many invitations as we can each week, and as soon as we’re ready, we’ll remove the need for an invitation and start bringing in new subscribers without delay.

At the start, I mentioned I’d come back to the third thing that all of us at Hulu have in common. That third thing is this: we believe that any lasting solution to the challenge of making TV show discovery and viewing dramatically easier has to work for all three of our customers, and those are our end users, our advertisers, and our content suppliers.

With Hulu Plus, we believe we’ve met that goal. For our end users, we’re offering them the most convenient way to access their favorite shows, on devices they love, in high definition, at a fair price. For our advertisers, who allow us to keep our Hulu Plus price low with the support of ad revenue, we offer one of the world’s most effective advertising platforms, with the ability to speak effectively to users across a variety of devices, anywhere they happen to be. And finally, for our content partners, we offer revenues that compensate them fairly for bearing the cost of producing the shows we love.

Is our work done? Not even close. There are more shows to license, more countries to expand into, and more product features to build. And we will.

But for today, we just want to share our latest project with you. We think it’s pretty great. We hope you do, too.

Jason Kilar

CEO, Hulu

Last comment: about 8 hours ago 395 Comments