Are the days of Web site Hulu’s phenomenal growth over? Traffic at Hulu.com fell more than 10% in November.
ComScore says that traffic to the joint venture between News Corp.’s (NWS) Fox and GE’s (GE) NBC fell 10.8 per cent from October to November, dropping from 5.3 million unique visitors to 4.8 million.
ComScore (SCOR) says U.S. traffic at Google’s (GOOG) YouTube also dropped that month, but by a much smaller margin–0.006 per cent. And since YouTube is a global property, those numbers are less telling. Hulu, meanwhile, is a U.S.-only site (much to the dismay of blog commenters).
What gives? Peter pins the blame partly on Sarah Palin’s exit from the national stage — and the millions of people who looked to Hulu for hilarious Palin SNL clips in October. (NBC.com, the other outlet to legally catch SNL online, dropped by 50% in the same period.)
Important caveat: ComScore’s Web traffic numbers don’t measure Hulu’s most important metric — the number of video streams it delivers each month. (ComScore reports this separately, usually a month later.) This will be increasingly important as more of Hulu’s streams — including ads it delivers — come from other sites, such as Sling Media’s new Sling.com.
Is Hulu’s honeymoon over? A lot of the site’s rapid growth this year can be attributed to people finding out about the service for the first time, and Hulu’s near-monopoly on its content (network sites like Fox.com have much of the same video, but Hulu’s site is far more elegant to use).
Still, hard to believe it’ll be more than a month or two before Hulu’s traffic catches up again — lots of growth left for TV on the Web, especially as companies make it easier to watch Web video on a real TV.