Hulu Celebrates A Year, Adds Friend Function

These days, it's all about social networking. If your app doesn't integrate "friends" in one way or another, chances are it won't last long in today's hyper-connected universe. Thus, it makes perfect sense to see Hulu adding a splash of friendship on its very first birthday. Believe it or not, the online video portal -- which has been under fire of late for its deliberate attempts to block the Boxee application from accessing Hulu content -- has just turned one year old, and there are certainly no signs of it slowing down on the way to birthday number two.

The firm, which is co-owned by News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity Partners, took the leap from beta to gold around this time last year, offering up online viewers a corunucopia of online videos, television shows and clips from a variety of other content providers -- all for free, so long as viewers watched their fair share of ads along the way. As part of its milestone celebration, the service is adding in a "Friends" feature, which integrates with email providers (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc.) and social networking portals (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to let users invite their comrades to use Hulu. Also, this new functionality gives avid Hulu users the ability to keep track of what their friends are viewing, subscribing to and discussing. Quite honestly, that all sounds a bit creepy to us, but we're sure the tweens will just go bonkers over it.

Once a friend has been established on Hulu, users can then "
share content by sending videos along with a note or by posting them to outside sites, including Digg, Delicious, MySpace and Facebook," and they can even keep a scorecard of how many videos they have watched or rated. Not that we'd consider bragging about being the individual who sat in front of Hulu the longest in a given month, but whatever floats the boat of the general public, right? Regardless of opinions, there's no denying that Hulu is growing in leaps and bounds. The company's CEO noted that the amount of content partners has increased from 50 to over 130, advertisers from 30 to 175 and the number of streams from 63 million to 308 million. With that kind of growth, we can understand Hulu's desire to share the good news with anyone that'll listen.