Report: Networks shutting out Hulu from ad spots for hit shows

Growing demand for online video and the popularity of shows like NBC's 30 Rock and The Office on video sharing site Hulu is prompting network partners to pull back available ad inventory from Hulu so they can sell it themselves, reports Media Week.

While NBC reportedly has been most aggressive in keeping the inventory available for its own sales force--as well as the inventory of its cable networks, USA and Bravo!--Hulu's other two owners, News Corp. and Disney, which control Fox and ABC respectively, also have begun to take more control of the inventory they had been making available to Hulu.

Media Week said Hulu had been shut out of ads for The Office and 30 Rock, and apparently had only 15 percent of other shows' ad inventory available to sell.

Hulu execs worry that if they only have access to ad inventory on older shows, they may not be able to maintain their revenues.

ComScore said that in August. Hulu reached 27.1 million unique users who streamed nearly 1.4 billion videos, allowing it to set CPMs in the range of the broadcast networks' Web video plays, up to $50.

"Hulu has professional content, just not necessarily the marquee shows," said Andrea Kerr Redniss, VP, group director at Moxie Interactive.

Hulu first raised the hackles of its joint-venture owners in March when it began selling inventory against them at discounted prices.

Another stressor for Hulu is Netflix's recent deal to stream shows on its service, further eroding Hulu's audience. With so many more options for over the top delivery available to broadcasters, and with Comcast likely to complete its takeover of NBC Universal by the end of the year, Hulu's position--and usefulness--to broadcasters is changing.

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