Hulu

by Kay Tinder

OVERVIEW

Hulu Logo

Photo Courtesy of: technobuffalo.com

Hulu is a streaming video on demand (SVOD) service that allows the public to see clips, television series (scripted and reality), and movies virtually anywhere. Hulu offers free, ad-sponsored content as well as a membership package called Hulu Plus—a $7.99 monthly fee that gives a user a broader selection of content, lessens the burden of ads, and allows access to more platforms to view the content. Since the company is private, Hulu is not forced to disclose their financials. However, the company did announce that they reached $1 billion in revenue in 2013 [1].

Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal share ownership in the company that has six million subscribers and has over 100,000 episodes and 5,400 films streaming [2]. The video streaming company has added more content, strengthened ties with various networks, interacted with the community, and experimented with new advertising models in order to stay competitive with ever changing new media.

NEW CONTENT

Franco's Saturday Night

Photo Courtesy of: blog.hulu.com

James Franco released his much anticipated Saturday Night Live (SNL) documentary exclusively to Hulu’s Plus subscribers. Saturday Night started as Franco’s NYU Film School Project that gave a behind-the-scenes look at a week of SNL and the production process of a single episode [3]. Since its original film festival debuts, the documentary has received mostly positive reviews. Releasing content with such high buzz on a private service urges Hulu users to upgrade to Plus and pay a little extra to be part of the limited audience that sees exclusive content.

11/22/63

Photo Courtesy of: books.usatoday.com

Stephen King’s best-selling novel, 11/22/63, has just been ordered as a miniseries [4]. The Hulu Original will be split into nine, hour-long episodes. The drama follows Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, who travels through time to the late 50’s. His goal is to prevent the President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Both King and J.J. Abrams (Bad Robot Productions) are working as executive producers, with Bridget Carpenter and Bryan Burk as writers [5]. This will also be the first time Warner Bros. Television (WBTV) and Hulu will collaborate on original programming [4]. Having big names on this project will certainly add hype to the new show and bring more traffic towards Hulu.

Casual is a straight-to-series, half-hour comedy series about a brother and sister, the first single and the latter newly divorced, who navigate the modern dating world while also raising a teenager under one roof. The ten episode, single-camera production is to be produced by Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman and through Lionsgate Television [6]. Lionsgate adds to Hulu’s content connections while Reitman’s name and reputation bring in more customers.

Selfie

Photo Courtesy of: www.projectcasting.com

ABC’s show Selfie , starring John Cho, was ordered to produce 13 episodes, but the comedy was cancelled after its seventh. Hulu decided to pick up the series and promised to release the six remaining episodes once a week, similar to its original television format [7]. It’s becoming more and more common for streaming services to save shows that are cancelled from traditional cable. Often they will finish whatever content they have produced or buy the rights and continue to produce more seasons.

Around the same time FX announced they would be streaming every the Simpsons episode ever produced, Hulu released that all 17 seasons of South Park would be available on Hulu, with new episodes available the day after they air [8]. This is just one of the many series Hulu makes binge-able while also keeping it up-to-date, a service that other streaming competitors do not provide.

Big names with a reputation of consistently producing good content litter Hulu’s upcoming shows. No doubt, Hulu’s continuous name-dropping will continue to draw people to its streaming services.

VIACOM

Photo Courtesy of: tvweek.com

Photo Courtesy of: tvweek.com

Hulu has just expanded its deal with Viacom, increasing the amount and diversity of content on both Hulu and Hulu Plus. Viacom owns a diverse array of networks like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, and TVLand. Already streaming shows like the Colbert Report, Breadwinners, and Awkward, Hulu will be adding Invader Zim, Workaholics, Spongebob Squarepants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—the final two being streamed in Spanish. They will also be refreshing already present content to include full past season of the Jersey Shore, Catfish, and many more [9]. This strengthened relationship could lead to more exclusive content in the future that would entice consumers to purchase Hulu Plus over other competitors.

APP UPDATES

Hulu has upgraded its free iOS  app for Hulu Plus subscribers. Three new panels have been added to the initial screen. “Home” gives a selection of the best or popular content handpicked by Hulu. “Shows you Watch” keeps track of the shows you watch and makes them easily accessible. “Navigation” provides the categorized list of all of Hulu’s content.

Hulu Plus App

Photo Courtesy of: blog.hulu.com 2

“Cast to TV” allows members to throw whatever they’re watching onto their television. Now, the new app will allow your phone to become the remote [10]. As more people turn to their phones and tablets to view content, Hulu’s refined app will serve as a plus for users.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

On October 16th, 2014, the streaming service showed its support for the LGBT community when converting its usual green accents to purple for a day.

GLADD

Photo Courtesy of: blog.hulu.com

To celebrate national #SpiritDay, Hulu highlighted LGBT-inclusive television series and films, including Ugly Betty, uncensored Sailor Moon, and Hulu Origianl East Los High—which also has an all-Latino cast. On this day, Hulu also reminded the public their partnership with GLADD, and Hulu’s ambition to have all backgrounds and cultures represented in their services [11]. Hulu is trying to show that they truly care about their audience and not just their money. They want all to feel relevant and welcome to their services.

ADVERTISING

Advertising on Hulu is affective, interactive, and integrated. Hulu has brought creative advertising techniques into their services that often leave competitors in the dust. Using choice-based ads allows the user to feel some power in what they watch and also helps advertisers target their market. Less wasted impressions means more money from advertisers, more money for Hulu, and less advertisements.

4 to 9ers

Photo Courtesy of: jinglepunks.com

Subway produced 4 to 9ers, six ten-minute episodes about high schoolers and their first part-time jobs. The main character works in a Subway and the business’s logo is in almost every frame. The integrated marketing technique was a huge hit and topped as Hulu’s most popular short-form comedy series [12]. Despite its success with unique advertising, Hulu is having some doubts.

Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, is reconsidering the amount of ads shown on Hulu Plus. In December 2013, Hulu would show an average of 82.3 ads per month, versus YouTube’s 32.3 ad average per viewer [13].  Showing this amount of ads may bring in money, but is incredibly risky, especially on a service that’s paid for. If too many ads are shown, users will ditch Hulu, much like cable, and opt for a service that’s cheaper or shows fewer ads. Hulu is on the right track by constantly looking for new methods of marketing. Replacing traditional advertisements with integrated marketing, like 4 to 9ers, makes advertising seem more like content rather than harassment.

[1] http://blog.hulu.com/2013/12/18/a-strong-2013/

[2] http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/hulu-renews-viacom-deal-expanding-selection-of-nickelodeon-shows-1201341031/

[3] http://blog.hulu.com/2014/09/26/james-francos-snl-documentary-debuts-on-hulu/

[4] http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/hulu-orders-stephen-kings-112263-kennedy-assassination-thriller-series-from-j-j-abrams-1201310792/

[5] http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/stephen-kings-book-on-jfk-assassination-to-be-hulu-series/

[6] http://blog.hulu.com/2014/10/30/jason-reitmans-casual-comes-to-hulu/

[7] http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/25/showbiz/tv/selfie-hulu-episodes/

[8] http://blog.hulu.com/2014/09/26/all-seasons-of-south-park-now-on-hulu/

[9] http://www.cnet.com/news/happy-happy-joy-joy-hulu-scores-cult-toon-classics/

[10] http://blog.hulu.com/2014/10/01/introducing-the-reimagined-hulu-plus-app-for-iphone/

[11] http://blog.hulu.com/2014/10/16/hulu-goes-purple-for-spiritday/

[12] http://variety.com/2013/digital/news/subway-serves-up-second-season-of-hulus-4-to-9ers-exclusive-1200325496/

[13] http://nypost.com/2014/10/08/hulu-ceo-mulls-cutting-number-of-ads-running-on-hulu-plus/

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