Hulu to Roll out New Original Series – September 14, 2013 – Hulu owners Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal have announced that they will invest $750 million in the streaming video service for marketing, technology, talent, and new content. The announcement, coming as Hulu’s owners called off plans to sell the company, means that there will be a concerted effort to develop more Hulu home-grown original and exclusive series in order to compete head-to-head with Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Hulu’s investment reflects increased spending on original content by rival streaming content providers Netflix and Amazon.
Netflix spends about 5% of its $2 billion annual programming budget on original programming, according to Ted Sarandos, its chief content officer. Netflix original programs include the Emmy-nominated political drama “House of Cards”, which has become the most downloaded show in history. Other Netflix original productions include Buried Alive, a comedy special with stand-up comic Aziz Ansari which will stream on November 1.
It will be difficult for Hulu to match what Netflix spends on original programming, but the announcement of the Hulu investment with the invigorated focus on new content comes as welcome news for Hulu Plus subscribers, who pay $8 per month for the premium service. Hulu Plus has approximately four million subscribers, and Hulu’s owners want to provide compelling content to both retain and grow that subscriber base.
And the competition for streaming video eyeballs is intense. In addition to offerings from industry leader Netflix and Amazon, there is volumnious video content available from YouTube and iTunes, as well as from Vudu, Redbox Instant, and other streaming video services. The cable distribution outlets are also heavily promoting content on demand, including feature films advertised as available ahead of their release on Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Hulu is on track to release twenty original series in 2013, and plans to release twenty more in 2014. According to acting CEO Andy Forsell, Hulu’s goal is to release all episodes of each new series at one time in order to encourage “binge viewing.” Binge viewing was popularized by Netflix through such highly addictive shows as AMC’s Breaking Bad and Netflix’ own production of season four of Arrested Development, which were released in single dumps of an entire season’s episodes that encouraged subscribers to watch multiple shows in one sitting.
Hulu’s new content planned for the fall season features Fugget About It, an animated situation comedy about a former New York City mob boss hiding out in small-town Canada as part of the witness protection program, which premiers on October 13; Strange Calls, a comedic mystery about a city detective investigating paranormal mysteries and bizarre happenings in a sleepy town, which begins streaming on October 19; Behind the Mask, a docu-series by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Josh Greenbaum profiling the unknown world of sports mascots, which airs on October 29; Mother Up!, an animated series featuring the voice of Eva Longoria, which premiers on November 6; and The Wrong Mans, an office comedy co-produced with the BBC, which begins streaming on November 11.