Hulu announced this morning that it has topped 28 million subscribers, with 26.8 million paid and 1.3 million promotional (Hulu operates both ad-supported/ad-free SVOD services and Hulu Live TV but didn’t provide a breakdown). Hulu added 7.5 million paid subscribers in 2018. Viewership also intensified with average time spent per subscriber up over 20% in 2018 and total hours watched per subscriber up 75%. Importantly, 80% of Hulu’s viewing occurs in the living room.
While Netflix has become the market leader in ad-free OTT viewing, Hulu has become the clear market leader in hybrid ad-supported premium OTT viewing. This is an extremely valuable place to be as cord-cutting accelerates and advertisers seek out viewer-friendly and targetable environments for their TV ad budgets. Hulu made a very smart move earlier this year, actually cutting the price of their ad-supported SVOD service by $2, to $6 per month, which no doubt is continuing to add to subscriber growth. A deal with Spotify announced in March to give Spotify Premium subscribers access to Hulu's ad-supported service is also likely having an early impact.
In fact, Hulu said its ad-supported audience jumped 43% in 2018 to over 58 million viewers, as total ad-supported hours increased by 82%. Breadth of interest from advertisers also surged, with 9 times more advertisers using its Advanced TV platform. Hulu offers advertisers what they most covet today: access to large targeted upscale audiences. Recognizing binge-viewing preferences (Hulu said almost half of ad-supported viewing is binged), the company also introduced a new ad unit specifically for targeting bingers (details not revealed).
With the addition of Hulu Live TV it can also offer advertisers the full gamut of linear and on-demand, sports, entertainment and news, connected TV and mobile devices, all in one platform.
Hulu has taken a page from Netflix’s playbook by aggressively investing in original programming and today it announced further moves in this area, with 2 new Marvel TV shows coming in 2020, food programming in partnership with Vox Media Studios and others, a new Nicole Kidman show based on the book “Nine Perfect Strangers,” and a series on Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, among others.
When you put the whole picture together, Hulu continues to stand out as one of the most valuable properties in the OTT era. With Disney now a majority owner (and possibly the full owner if Comcast sells its 30% stake) and the massive debut of Disney+ coming later this year, Disney is poised to own 2 of the most significant streaming brands. It will put Disney in a unique position in the market.
Note: I’m thrilled to have Hulu’s SVP and Head of Ad Sales Peter Naylor as our keynote guest at the 9th annual Video Advertising Summit on May 29th in NYC. Peter will be sharing insights on how Hulu’s “viewer-first” mantra has driven the company’s advertising success. Save $100 and DOUBLE your chances of winning a 55-inch 4K Roku TV now!