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Quick Hits: Hulu Gaining on YouTube


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Hulu may knock YouTube from its perch as the top-rated video website.

If Hulu pulls ahead in 2010 or so, it will underscore the value of professional programming over amateur offerings and will pose a setback to Google's (GOOG) apparent plans to conquer the world. Hulu is owned by News Corporation (NWS) and NBC Universal (GE).

But more than that, Hulu's ascendancy shows that traditional media companies can turn a profit online without giving up control of the content as the recording industry did with iTunes, the Financial Times reports.

Google acquired YouTube for about $1.65 billion 2 years ago. YouTube had about 83 million unique viewers in the US in September. YouTube is expected to generate about $100 million in the US this year, as compared with $70 million for Hulu.

But Hulu is projected to grow more quickly, and both sites are expected to generate about $180 million in revenue in the US in 2009. The key: YouTube now earns about half its revenue outside the US, while Hulu hasn't yet been launched internationally.

Short, amateur clips make up most YouTube videos, although it became a bulletin board for campaign ads during the election.

Hulu offers hit shows, including The Simpsons and The Office as well as offerings from Sony (SNE) and Viacom (VIA), which is almost certain to make the site more attractive to major advertisers in the future.

But there may be one major bump ahead: If bandwith capacity doesn't keep pace with growing demand, some might long for the good old days of a black-and-white TV with rabbit ears.

For more on weird-sounding dot-com names (like Hulu), check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report.
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