Hulu’s Eric Feng: Early Results

Apr 24, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The player: Eric Feng, chief technology officer at Hulu
The play: Feng was the first person hired by Hulu Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar, and he helped the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture go from last year’s inception to last month’s launch. The online video service is trying to capitalize on the U.S. consumption of online videos. Web video viewing has surged 66% over the past year, comScore Networks said last week.
The pitch: Hulu’s broad inventory of TV shows, ranging from contemporary series such as “The Simpsons” and “Prison Break” to catalog titles like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” has ensured that 80% of its library is viewed at least once a week, Feng said. Additionally, about a third of its movie inventory, which has been boosted by about 100 titles since Hulu’s March 12 launch, can be streamed in what Feng said was a type of intermediate resolution between standard and high definition. So far, traffic has been greater than expected, CEO Kilar said at last week’s National Association for Broadcasters convention.
The challenges: The ability to stream high-definition on the Web is limited by bandwidth availability. Feng estimated the typical high-speed Internet system in the U.S. is about 20% less robust than it needs to be for consistent HD online video viewing. The company also hasn’t specifically addressed how customers can best transfer the content from their computers to their television sets. “Hulu is exclusively designed for video browsers on computers,” said Feng. “We want to make sure we nail that scenario before we tackle others.”
Backstory: Feng, 29, joined Hulu in July after founding Beijing-based video-annotation service Mojiti, whose employees now are part of Hulu’s development team. Feng had moved to China from Seattle as part of Microsoft’s research department, where he worked for five years. He received a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently based in Los Angeles, Feng grew up in Austin.


  1. For anywhere betwen 30 million and 60 million viewers, Hulu is a complete disaster. That’s be Huli, like its corporate parents’ web sites, has been unable — or unwilling — to provide any sort of captioning option. Virtually all new programming on television is now captioned under rules set up in the mid-1990s. Yet with a few small-scale exceptions, no video download service he felt it necessary to include captions.
    In addition to 31 million men, women and children with hearing loss, there are an equal numbers of viewers who would choose to use captions if available, including those learning English and those watching in noisy environments or at work (where you’d probably rather not broadcast the fact that you’re watching a broadcast.
    When Hulu gets its act together and adds a closed-caption stream. THEN I’ll be impressed.

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