Founded: March 2007 by Beth Comstock & Jason KilarCEO: Mike Hopkins SVP, Head of Distribution: Tim Connolly SVP, Head of Content: Craig Erwich SVP, General Counsel: Chadwick Ho
Hulu is an OTT (over the top) streaming service launched in 2008 to provide users with “hundreds of thousands of hours of the best of the best television programming and movies to subscribers with limited commercials” . Hulu offers its services in both the United States and Japan on two pay scales: “with limited commercials for $7.99 per month or with no commercials for $11.99 per month” . New users can also try Hulu for a 30-day free trial.
Compared to other OTT streaming services like Netflix and HBO Go, Hulu has the benefit of being owned by three of the largest programming distributors: NBCUniversal, Fox, and Disney-ABC. In total, Hulu has over 500 content partners , providing them a great advantage in programming over their competitors. On the advertising side, Hulu has partnerships with over 2,000 brand and companies, helping it gain recognition as one of “the top ad-supported online video sites” . Hulu boasts a subscriber base of 9 Million users whose viewership trends are tracked by ComScore, Nielson, and Quantcast.
Hulu was first announced during the Super Bowl XLII broadcast via an Alec Baldwin-starring commercial. Initially, the platform was available for free via an ad-supported system and at a premium level called “Hulu Plus” without ads. Archived content from its three powerhouse distributors (NBC/Fox/Disney) could be viewed in on an unlimited basis on both platforms. In 2011; however, Hulu announced that content would be available on the service the day after premiering once users authenticated their service-providers . Later that year, the company struck a deal with the CW Network to also premiere their content next-day . Two years later, Hulu signed on with BBC Worldwide North America to “bring as many as 2,000 episodes from 144 different BBC titles to a wider American audience” .
In Early 2015, AT&T struck a deal with Hulu to allow for streaming on “the telecom company’s websites and mobile apps” . In June of 2015, Showtime became “the first premium service to be offered by Hulu” , in a monumental deal that allowed the company to effectively compete HBO Go by offering the addition of Showtime‘s premium content at only an additional $8.99/month as compared to HBO Go‘s $11.99/month charge . This deal also showcased the Hulu platform’s ability to support premium add-ons, highlighting them as a powerful distribution tool for premium content providers. In
In 2011, Hulu partnered with documentary film-maker, Morgan Spurlock, on a 6-episode series titled, “A Day In The Life” . The show was available to both free and premium subscribers and chronicled Spurlock as he followed a famous individual around for a day. In 2013, the company ramped up it’s original content by premiering “three original series and seven exclusive shows” . As of April, 2016, the platform boasts 23 original titles, ranging from shows like The Awesomes to Deadbeat.
Exclusive Rights Deals
Currently, Hulu is focussed on acquiring rights to exclusive content and original series in order to lure potential users. This January, the company gained exclusive rights to stream “Lifetime’s critically acclaimed drama series from A+E Studios, UnREAL”  This move, which gambled on the success of a critically acclaimed show after it’s first season, highlights the mindset of much of the company’s moves thus far in 2016. In addition to UnReal, Hulu also picked up the rights to Chance, “a provocative psychological thriller that focuses on a forensic neuropsychiatrist who reluctantly gets sucked into a violent and dangerous world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness” .
On January 27, Hulu announced a “landmark output deal” with IFC Films that makes “Hulu the exclusive streaming home for all future documentary releases from IFC Films, which will include all documentaries from the brands IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight” . In a first-of-its-kind deal, all IFC films will now go directly from theaters to the Hulu platform in the first “one-window” agreement of its kind .
In March, Hulu and Universal announced a deal that gives the platform exclusive rights to the Curious George series for past and future releases within the window of a three-year deal . In total, Hulu users “gain access to all nine seasons – over 100 episodes – of CURIOUS GEORGE® TV series”. Additionally, Hulu will be the home to all Curious George feature-length films and the destination of “direct-to-TV specials” .
Aside from picking up the rights to existing content, Hulu sees itself as a platform for content creators to flex their muscles. Speaking at the Code/Media conference, CEO Mike Hopkins said, “What we’re trying to do is give creators the resources they need … and go for it” . While the company is “lacking a defining show like “Orange Is the New Black” or “Transparent,”  Hulu is confident in its ability to win bidding wars for broadcast smash-hits, something apparent in the company’s success at beating out Netflix and HBO Go for the rights to Fox‘s Empire.
On March 24, Hulu announced the launch of it’s virtual reality application. Available on Samsung’s Gear VR platform, Hulu says that it will be bringing all current content to the app and will be “augmenting the experience with some of the very best 360-degree video content available” . Additionally, the company states that users will be able to “watch the entire Hulu 2D library in immersive 360-degree environments” .
With the competitive world of OTT streaming as fiery a battle as ever, Hulu sees to distance itself from the competition by providing its users with innovative, exclusive content. To reel in new customers, the company hopes to be the first to strike gold in new ventures such as virtual reality and will continue to hope that its licensing deals continue to drive revenues.
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