Hulu would love to expand — you know, sometime

Hulu is going global. Maybe.

The video website owned by News Corp and NBC Universal is apparently thinking of expanding to Britain, France, Germany and Japan. But don’t get too excited. Peter Smith, president of NBC Universal International, told a conference that while Hulu would love to push out its boundaries, there aren’t yet any concrete plans.

He didn’t say this, but it seems that given what’s happening with the global economy, this may not be the best time to expand a service that depends on advertising revenue. Speaking of which…

The Financial Times has a story out today that suggests Hulu could match Google’s YouTube in US revenue next year. The article cites Screen Digest, and certainly other researchers may disagree. Still, it’s interesting that Screen Digest figures both online video cites will bring in about $180 million. Should we interpret this as a Hulu success? Or a YouTube failure?

Keep an eye on:

    General Electric may be interested in buying more media assets ( TV broadcast networks are now cutting development costs in the face of perhaps the most challenging economic environment the TV industry has ever experienced (NY Post) Has Rupert Murdoch, who oversees the News Corp media empire, gone soft on liberals? (NY Times)

Fox Business does business with politics, hotels

Fox Business Network‘s website had a good October, thanks to the financial crisis. Here are some numbers:

- 2.5 million unique users, its highest monthly audience ever
- 21st in unique users among all Nielsen’s financial news & information websites.
- 9th in visits per person, 15th in total visits, “stickiness,” and pages per person among all financial news and information websites.
- 3.9 million unique users as measured internally and 2.5 million as measured by Nielsen Online.

Meanwhile on election night, 79,196 homes tuned in to FBN, or 0.2 percent of the 42 million homes in which the network is available. Then again, only 0.3 percent of CNBC’s 97 million homes were watching.

WSJ=Way Smarter Journalists

News Corp is realizing synergies, cross-promoting among its brands. Here’s the latest announcement:

NEW YORK (Nov. 10, 2008) – HarperCollins Publishers and The Wall Street Journal today announced the formation of a three-year publishing partnership to develop books written by the Journal’s expert editors and reporters across a variety of topics for a wide range of readers. Both HarperCollins and Dow Jones & Company, which publishes The Wall Street Journal, are owned by News Corp. The program will be overseen by Steve Ross, group president of the Collins Group, a division of Harper Collins, and Alan Murray, deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, in conjunction with the Publishers and editorial teams from the Collins, Collins Business, Collins Living and Collins Design imprints.

That’s all fine, if a bit humdrum. You have to dig down past the usual canned quotes in the press release to get to the good stuff, which as always emanates from the pen of Wall Street Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson:

Dragging and dropping with MySpace

At MySpace, change is a gradual affair. News Corp’s online social network on Monday is introducing Profile 2.0, which it calls the “next step in iterative global site redesign, enabling millions of users to opt-in and customize the appearance of their profiles using an innovative new drag-and-drop user interface.”

I’ve spent the last 13 years working on getting my PhD in translating tech PR to English, but I’m not quite fluent yet. Loosely rendered, this means that it will get easier for MySpace members to change the way their profiles look by moving various parts around their computer screens.

Here’s what else they’re doing with Profile 2.0: People can display different kinds of information to different categories. That could mean that you share your weekend bong-and-bender photos with your extracurricular pals while saving the work information for prospective employers to see (unless you’re going to work at one of those places that counts hard-partying social activity as a prerequisite).

How bad is local advertising? Ask Fox

We’re guessing Rupert Murdoch isn’t smiling quite so much right now. Not after News Corp reported a larger-than-expected drop in quarterly profit and cut its full year outlook.

The problem? In case you haven’t heard, advertising, particularly at the local level, is in terrible shape. Any company with local TV stations — and News Corp is one of them — is hurting right now.

Indeed,  Fox Television Stations’ first-quarter operating income fell 48 percent from the same period last year. Overall, News Corp profit fell 30 percent.

Yahoo rejected again (and again)

Yahoo: Shun me once, shame on you. Shun me three times in one day, shame on… uh, shame on all of you.

First, Google walked away from their search advertising partnership, saying that it had enough with interference from U.S. antitrust regulators. That’s no surprise — remember the deal was originally conceived as a way for Yahoo to fend off Microsoft’s takeover ambitions? On that score, Google can certainly say: mission accomplished.

Then, investors and bloggers started speculating that Google’s withdrawal could make room for Microsoft to return to the negotiating table. Shares of Yahoo jumped as much as 11 percent on rumors that the companies were in advanced talks … before several people familiar with the situation roundly denied that Microsoft was close to making an offer.

Wolff opines on Murdoch… again

Can you tell it’s book-flacking time?

Vanity Fair is running the second excerpt from the forthcoming book that Michael Wolff wrote about News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch (this one centers on his family), and Wolff is making the rounds this week to talk about it. He was on CNBC moments ago, engaging in everyone’s favorite media parlor game: Parsing Murdoch’s every move like a multi-clause sentence. Friday’s appearance follows a panel discussion at a conference earlier this week where he made similar remarks. Here’s what he said on CNBC.

What will Murdoch do after buying The Wall Street Journal? What’s his next move?

“I’m not sure that he exactly knows. One of the problems here is that he bought a newspaper and not only did he buy a newspaper, but if he had only waited six months to buy that newspaper he would have saved a billion and a half dollars.” (Nothing like hindsight, is there?)

News Corp’s Chernin gets Supreme Court warm-up

peter-chernin.jpgNews Corp’s U.S. television network Fox is going to the Supreme Court to fight for its right to broadcast freely — whatever the Federal Communications Commission has to say about it.

Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin will offer a preview of the network’s thinking tonight when he addresses the Media Institute, which is honoring him for his leadership on free speech. This comes in advance of the Nov. 4 court date in FCC v. Fox Television Stations.

Here’s the gist of the case, as The New York Times described it:

When Cher appeared on the Billboard Music Awards in 2002, she used a four-letter word connoting sex. The next year, on the same show, banter between Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie included that word and another obscenity. In Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, No. 07-582, the court will decide whether the F.C.C. has the power to punish broadcasters for airing “fleeting expletives.”

Murdoch, Bancroft & Murdoch Esq.

murdoch.jpgThe big topic at News Corp’s annual meeting in New York on Friday was how the international media conglomerate will weather the financial crisis as advertising revenue looks like it will be on the skids for a while.

For that, along with Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch’s messages of resistance and hope in the face of financial scariness, see the story we ran on the wire earlier. MediaFile is more concerned with the younger generation that’s running News Corp these days.

So too are News Corp’s investors. One of them asked Murdoch how Natalie Bancroft — brought on to the board from the Bancroft family after it sold its controlling interest in Dow Jones (and The Wall Street Journal) to News Corp — would manage to be an effective director when she is better known as a “27-year-old, professionally trained opera singer based in Italy.”

Fox Biz throws CNBC’s Cramer under bus

If you didn’t know better, you’d think CNBC was running for office and Fox Business was the down-in-the-polls attack dog. 

That’s the feeling you get watching Fox Business’s latest TV ad, which throws CNBC star and stock picker Jim Cramer under the bus and urges viewers to, you know, kick CNBC to the curb. YouTube Preview Image

Truth is, Fox sort of IS behind in the “polls” — its rating are still a fraction of CNBC’s, even though the global financial crisis has been on the front page for weeks. The New York Times, citing Neilsen data, says viewership exploded to 81,000, on average one day earlier this month. Fox Business had never previously drawn an audience large enough to be “statistically reliable” by Nielsen.