So, Hulu's YouTube channel, which you may not have known existed--after all, Hulu is its own video destination that basically competes with YouTube--has just crossed the 1 billion view mark. Hulu's channel is little more than clips and commercials, so how in the world did a channel with about 175 videos get to this kind of status? While anytime you talk about something hitting a billion it's impressive, we have to assess the true reasons why a channel gets that many views, and whether it's something to be really excited about, or is this a trumped-up number?
Hulu's Channel Owes A Lot To Family Guy And The Simpsons
Take a look at the upload page for Hulu and you will see a majority of the videos are Family Guy and Simpsons clips. While Hulu also gets a good boost from their own funny commercials...
...the majority come from clips like this:
There are around 20 Family Guy clips that have gone over the 10 million view mark, accounting for a little more than 20% of the total views from those clips alone. There are 4 Simpsons clips that have achieved that, and when you combine all the Family Guy and Simpsons clips together, you get close to 900 million of those views.
Add in a fairly healthy dose of Saturday Night Live from early in the channel's history, including the tremendous blockbuster SNL skit, "D*** In A Box," which commands more than 34 million views on its own, then you see where this channel got to a billion. The view count is watered down because almost all of it comes from fans of two shows looking for a highlight that Hulu easily provides. It's not surprising that the clips that have achieved 20 million or more are the ones that people generally talk about when discussing those shows.
For some context, I took a look at the channel "Viso Trailers," which shows all the trailers and clips that the studios release for their movies. Trailers, especially ones for huge tent-pole films, often get into the tens of millions of views. And taking a look at Viso's numbers, you can see the similarity: they have over a billion views on their own. But I don't remember seeing big fanfare for Viso's milestone, probably because they aren't Hulu and no one really associates their trailer-watching with them: there are a lot of channels showing trailers, they just happen to be one of the most viewed and come up in search faster than all of them.
Obviously, Hulu is not interested in view counts on YouTube: they want people to visit their site and watch the full episodes and movies they have. They aren't even monetizing those views, so this isn't some large criticism of Hulu on the whole--it's just the idea of views and what those mean that are "on trial" here. So while the amount of people watching their channel is great and they can stand by that number, it means very little overall.