Hulu Pays at Least $40 Million to Get Jon Stewart Back
Hulu is paying between $40 and $50 million for the return of Viacom's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report to the free ad-supported service.
Meanwhile, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar may be heading for another showdown with shareholders Walt Disney, News Corp. and NBC Universal after criticizing their traditional TV business model in a blog post, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
In the blog post that predicted that Hulu’s revenue would nearly double this year, Kilar also said that “traditional TV has too many ads,” while touting his online video service’s advertising effectiveness, saying advertising on its site is “two-times as effective as traditional TV video advertising”.
Walt Disney told the FT that Kilar’s views were “personal and clearly not shared by anyone at Walt Disney.” News Corp declined to comment, and NBC Universal could not be reached for comment.
News Corp. president Chase Carey in a conference call late Wednesday didn’t focus on possible tensions, but instead lauded Hulu for recently adding a subscription service to its otherwise advertising-driven business model.
However, Kilar’s blog comments could exacerbate tensions between Kilar, who at one point threatened to quit, and the media companies. Their relationship has already been strained amid discussions about access to content and the best business model for Hulu.
Hulu’s owners have become alarmed at the CEO’s attempts to redefine Hulu as a premium online video destination with programming that is not available anywhere else, the FT reported.
One person close to Hulu told the paper that the media giants were furious with Kilar. “If I were given billions of dollars worth of programming, I too could probably build a business,” the person said. “But I know that in order to build a long-term, viable business I would have to do so in a way that works for everybody.”
In his blog post, which came as the company announced the return of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Kilar predicted that Hulu would bring in $500 million in revenue this year, nearly double the $263 million recorded in 2010 and well above the $108 million seen in 2009.