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Helping Hulu

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NEW YORK Hulu.com, the seven-month-old Web hub for television shows and movies from NBC Universal and News Corp., is reaching outside for marketing help.

Hulu is said to have contacted ad agencies in search of a shop that can produce something traditional: TV spots that will drive traffic to the site, which last month generated an estimated 2.5 million unique visits, according to Nielsen Online. That was up from 2.2 million in March and 909,000 in February. Hulu also distributes programs through MySpace, AOL and other partners, in addition to letting users post clips on blogs and social networks. The site boasts it streamed 63 million clips or shows in March.

Agencies have been asked to submit their creative reels and basic credentials and, based on submissions, the client will draw up a list of shops to visit, a source said. The process is said to be in the early stages and Hulu rep Christina Lee said the company does not have a timetable for the selection.

"We're looking at our options," Lee said. "It's early in the process. Hulu hasn't done any marketing to date, but we're open to getting input from experts out there."

Because Hulu is a joint venture of NBC and News Corp., sources expect the eventual ads to run primarily on their respective networks. That's typical for a media brand, particularly one with broad-shouldered parents like Hulu. The site carries over 250 TV shows, including The Simpsons and The Office, plus 100 full-length movies.

The joint venture began in March 2007 and launched in October. Originally perceived as a rival to YouTube, the free site has turned out to be more of a library of NBC and News Corp. video content, available at full length or as clips. Viewers are able to share clips or show episodes through e-mail or embed them on other sites.