Netflix still maintains a commanding lead in the digital video race, but Hulu is gaining on the streaming giant.
The company's premium service Hulu Plus has 1.5 million paying subscribers, up from less than 300,000 at the same point during the previous year, according to a blog post from CEO Jason Kilar.
That's a far cry from the over 23.8 million subscribers claimed by Netflix in its most recent quarter, but it's still sizable growth for a company that spent the better part of last year on the auction block.
Revenue also grew substantially, Kilar blogged. Hulu grew its business 60 percent from 2010 to approximately $420 million in revenue. That is impressive growth, but it falls just short of Hulu's projections. Kilar had previously stated that the company was on track to "approach" $500 million in revenue.
Hulu did $263 million in revenue for all of 2010.
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The subscription part of the business is incredibly important to Hulu's future and is key to nudging the still growing company into the black. Kilar said in the post that he expects the subscription services to account for more than half of Hulu’s overall business in 2012.
Offering more bang for the buck will be essential to getting people to actually pay for streaming rights to movies and shows.
To that end, Kilar said that the company plans to invest "approximately half a billion" in new content this year.
"As you might expect based on the 2011 results mentioned above and our recent launch of Hulu in Japan, we as a team are very bullish on where things go from here," Kilar wrote. "We have conviction that digital ultimately becomes the primary way that consumers across the globe choose to access content."
After receiving an unsolicited takeover overture last summer, Hulu's owners Comcast, Disney, News Corp. and Providence Equity, actively weighed the merits of divesting themselves from the video site.
Hulu's owners engaged Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners to gauge interest, eventually receiving bids from Google and Dish Network before opting to grow the company instead of cashing out.
Kilar worked without a contract during that period — during which he kept pushing the media barons to give him more time to build Hulu.
He got his wish — now he just has to deliver.