Hulu arrived to the NewFronts in New York City boasting that it had crossed the 20 million subscriber mark and renewed its critically acclaimed drama, The Handmaid’s Tale, for a third season.
“Our viewers have streamed over six billion hours of premium content in 2017. Time spent per subscriber is up 8 percent and total engagement on Hulu is up more than percent,” said Hulu Chief Executive Officer Randy Freer at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. “Today, we are happy to announce that Hulu has surpassed 20 million subscribers. Over the past three quarters, Hulu has added more U.S. subscribers than any other pay TV brand.”
Just two years earlier, Hulu’s subscriber base amounted to 12 million.
Referencing ComScore, Freer suggested that homes that cut the cord, or never had a cord, now spend more hours per household on Hulu than Netflix, Amazon or YouTube. Moreover, Hulu’s median age is 31, said Freer, far lower than any broadcast or cable network.
“That level of engagement is what makes Hulu one of the world’s top-ten direct-to- consumer entertainment brands,” he said. “We’re growing our audience, we’re growing our engagement, and Hulu is the most effective place to reach consumers who love television. We offer an ad load that is less than half that of traditional TV.”
Freer also emphasized that there are more than 75,000 episodes of television available at Hulu, including both original and acquired content, all of which can be ad-supported. Hulu has re-bundled more than $40 billion dollars of content, including current network shows, full-series runs, exclusive programming and live news and sports. And, in a new deal with Sony Pictures Television, Hulu has acquired the exclusive subscription video on demand (SVOD) rights to ABC medical drama The Good Doctor, which featured 18 hour-long episodes on ABC in its first season.
Front and center, of course, was The Handmaid’s Tale, the streamer’s first hit breakout scripted series, which Hulu has officially renewed for a third season. And new for next season are series orders for Four Weddings and a Funeral, a re-telling of the 1994 film from executive producers Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton (who previously worked together on The Mindy Project); comedy Ramy, centered on the real-life experiences of Muslim comedian Ramy Youssef; and a horror event series from Blumhouse Television called Into the Dark, which will launch the first Friday of every month and kick off with The Body on October 5.
“We will offer 12 standalone feature-length events, each related to a holiday or a specific time of the year,” said Joel Stillerman, Hulu’s chief content officer regarding Into the Dark. “Every month our audience will get a new scary episode, but they will all be made by different filmmakers with different stories.”
“We plan on butchering Halloween, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July and, of course, Christmas,” he joked.
These series join the previously announced dramas Castle Rock from J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, which launches on Wednesday, July 25; The First, starring Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone; Little Fires Everywhere, with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington; and the limited-series remake of Catch-22, with George Clooney, Kyle Chandler, Christopher Abbott and Hugh Laurie.
Additionally, Hulu has struck a multi-year deal with DreamWorks Animation to develop original kids and family-themed programming. Under the deal, Hulu will have exclusive streaming rights to the studio’s current library, new releases starting in 2019 and new original series starting in 2020.
On the business side, the streaming service is adopting Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings for OTT as its official metrics. It’s also offering subscribers on both the ad-supported and premium plans the ability to download content for offline viewing. Subscribers to the ad-supported service will see ads in downloaded content as well as when viewing online.