July 2009

Tastemakers 2009 Jason Kilar

by Jod Kaftan / produced by Mayer Rus / portrait by Scott Council

Jason Kilar When traditional media behemoths Fox and NBC—the partners behind Hulu—thought of a Web-based content outlet, they brought in Pittsburgh native Kilar, who’d been instrumental in forming Amazon’s DVD-download business. With technology and storytelling in Kilar’s DNA—his father was an engineer, his mother a columnist—Hulu was a perfect venue. Surprisingly, the aim was not to best YouTube.

In crafting Hulu, Kilar leveraged access to a library of premium content with shows like Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, stayed away from user-generated video, offered limited commercials and created a uniquely clean cinematic experience. For Fox and NBC, this was a win-win, and Kilar’s success is measurable: Hulu’s unique users are through the roof, and ad rates for such shows as Arrested Development are higher than when they were on the air. TV Hulu style may or may not turn brains to tapioca—as the ads starring Alec Baldwin, Denis Leary and Seth MacFarlane roguishly imply—but it’s changing how we consume content, and it’s filling network coffers.