RealTime IT News

Hulu Coming to iPhone?

Is video startup Hulu ready for its close-up on the iPhone?

A Hulu video-streaming app for the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iPod touch that support both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity may be in the works for release at the Apple App Store this summer, according to a Silicon Alley Insider report.

If true, the rumors could serve as an even stronger validation for Hulu, which continues expanding and mounting a growing challenge to market leader YouTube, despite some recent challenges.

The advertiser-supported site, launched in March 2008, offers full-length television episodes and feature films from co-founders NBC Universal and Fox as well as cable networks Comedy Central, USA, Bravo FX, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus and Oxygen. Shows typically appear on the site the day after their primetime premiere.

While Hulu has sparred with players like TV.com and Boxee, it's still manage to continue charting impressive growth.

Hulu.com saw a surge in traffic in February, according to Web traffic research firm comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR). Even thought it was engaged in a spat with other firms over content-sharing, traffic to its site rose 55 percent to 7.8 million unique visitors. The increase earned Hulu the No. 2 spot among the research firm's top-gaining properties.

At the same time, the mobile market is scrambling to find a successful way to capitalize on mobile video, which consumers have been slow to adopt due to high subscription prices and sub-par performance, according to industry observers.

Still, it's unclear how likely the rumored iPhone app might be. For one thing, the iPhone currently lacks Adobe Flash, which Hulu uses on its Web site.

Hulu has also been consistently focusing on its Web-based service -- recently launching several upgrades to its search, as reported at the Hulu blog.

At any rate, Hulu's competition hasn't been sitting idly by, either. YouTube recently announced a deal with Disney Media Networks to show mini-episodes from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television Group on ad-supported channels at the Google-owned (NASDAQ: GOOG) video portal. That move was part of YouTube's new strategy -- validating itself as a showcase for professional, premium content in an effort to start making money.

The Disney-YouTube deal came on the heels of news that ABC was in talks with Hulu to take an equity stake in exchange for providing ABC shows to the fast-growing site that lets people watch TV shows for free.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) had not returned calls to comment on the status of the iPhone app by press time. Hulu spokespeople declined to comment on the rumors.