Hulu launches with bigger slate

Adds content by Warner Bros. TV Group, Lionsgate

NEW YORK -- Hulu, the NBC Universal/News Corp. joint online video venture, will publicly launch Wednesday with new partnerships with Warner Bros. Television Group, Lionsgate and an expanded film slate.

The deal with WBTVG will bring full episodes of "Babylon 5," "Welcome Back Kotter" and clips from "Friends." Lionsgate releases on the site will include "Requiem for a Dream" and "Killing Zoe."

Hulu also recently signed content deals with Michael Eisner's production studio Vuguru, which produced "Prom Queen"; the Onion News Network; the NBA; and the NHL. The site also will showcase full-length NCAA men's basketball tournament games from the past 25 years.

In addition to content from NBC and News Corp. and those networks' cable properties, the site also has programming from Reveille, Smithsonian Networks and World Wrestling Entertainment and full-length movies from Sony, Fox, Universal and MGM. In all, the site has more than 50 partners, full-length episodes of more than 250 series and more than 100 feature-length movies.

The joint venture was first announced about a year ago by NBC Uni and News Corp. executives and the site was launched in beta in October. The company also announced $100 million in funding from Providence Equity Partners at that time.

In addition to a standalone site, the company has distribution channels on Time Warner's AOL, News Corp.'s MySpace, Yahoo, MSN and Comcast's Fancast. Its player can also be embedded on blogs and other sites.

Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, a former Amazon executive, said that since the beta launch, Hulu's inventory has quadrupled and the content has been seen by more than 5 million viewers across the Web. He would not disclose how many users have logged on to, but he said the site's player has been embedded over 50,000 times across 5,000 sites.

"If you make media truly easy and put the user at the center, they will respond," Kilar said. "That's what we're dedicated to."