Remember when Hulu reacted to Netflix’s price increases earlier this year by slashing the cost of its cheapest plan to $6 per month? Well that move appears to have paid off big time, at least in terms of the streaming service’s subscriber numbers. Hulu’s membership grew 12% since the start of the year, to 28 million, the company reported at the 2019 Digital Content NewFronts in New York, according to Variety.
Not all of those subscribers are paying members — 1.3 million are on free, promotional plans — but the company has been able to add paying members at a fast clip: Paid memberships are up 16.5% over the same time period.
Despite the big boost in paying members, though, Hulu continues to lose money, which may explain some of the other announcements it shared. The Disney/Comcast-owned service plans to add several new shows to keep its audience engaged, including two new Marvel-based titles; Ghost Rider and Helstrom, both of which are set to debut in 2020. If Hulu can make these productions a success, it’s a smart move against Netflix, which is losing Marvel shows rapidly now that Disney is beginning to circle the wagons, ensuring that both Hulu and the forthcoming Disney Plus service get to reap the benefits of the hugely popular Marvel universe.
Other new shows Hulu is planning include:
- Straight-to-series order for For Nine Perfect Strangers, helmed by and starring Nicole Kidman.
- A multiyear deal with Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions, Momofuku chef David Chang’s Majordomo Media, and Vox Media Studios to develop “food-centric programming.”
- A two-year deal with Teigen to develop original programming, which Variety says could include scripted drama series and talk shows.
These original programming efforts will be expensive, so Hulu is going to launch what it calls an industry-first, “binge-advertising experience,” which will let advertisers target binge viewers with “non-intrusive” messaging that is “situationally relevant to their viewing behavior.” Earlier this year, Hulu showed off an example of a non-intrusive “pause ad” format, which layers a static ad over paused content in a way that lets viewers see both. It’s not clear if the new binge-advertising experience will be an extension of the pause-ad format, or something else entirely.
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