Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 3:18 PM ET|Posted by Will Richmond
Hulu held its NewFront on Wednesday, highlighting its growth, which includes approaching 9 million subscribers, up 50% vs. 2014, with 700 million hours of video streamed in Q1 '15, up 83% vs. Q1 '14. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said that 61% of Hulu's viewers no longer watch on a computer. 82% of Hulu's audience is in the 18-49 year-old age range, with a median age of 33 years-old.
I have long wondered whether Hulu was going to be the odd man out, sandwiched between Netflix, OTT's 800-pound gorilla, and Amazon, with its unlimited resources. But Hulu is clearly investing heavily in both licensed and original content, and seemingly carving out its place in the OTT landscape.
The big licensing deal announced at its NewFront was for all 180 episodes of "Seinfeld," the most popular TV series that hadn't yet found an SVOD home. Jerry Seinfeld was on hand to plug the deal, candidly conveying his amazement at how a show that initially fought for its life became such a big SVOD draw (Hulu is reportedly paying $700,000 per episode, or almost $130 million, for the rights).
Another big new licensing deal is for all future shows on AMC Networks, which will include the sequel to "The Walking Dead," among others. Hulu's content head Craig Erwich ticked off the company's other high-profile licensing deals, with Turner, Fox (for "Empire"), Viacom, Discovery, Bravo, E!, FX Productions and Adult Swim.
Meanwhile, Hulu is anteing up for some marquee original programming with A-list talent. Those appearing on stage included J.J. Abrams and James Franco (for their Stephen King series "11/23/63"), Amy Poehler, Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner (for "Difficult People"), Jason Reitman and Zander Lehmann (for "Casual"), Jason Katims and Jessica Goldberg (for "The Way") and YouTube star Freddie Wong (for "RocketJump: The Show).
Hopkins characterized 2015 as the year Hulu will break out and with the talent it is attracting and the shows that it's introducing, that may well be the case. One little surprise Hopkins revealed was that the "Plus" in Hulu Plus is being retired. There was no explanation for how that will affect the free Hulu.com version that Hulu has maintained since inception.