Pivotal Research has released an analysis of Nielsen data on growth rates of U.S. SVOD services, finding that Hulu had grown access by TV households by 39% at the end of May 2018 compared with a year ago. By Nielsen’s estimate, Pivotal said Hulu had 21 million SVOD subscribers, about in line with the 20 million plus that Hulu itself announced on May 2nd.
Pivotal attributed the growth to both Hulu’s programming and its vMVPD service which includes SVOD access. At 21 million, Hulu would have grown 4 million subscribers or nearly 24% vs. its year-end 2017 level of 17 million plus.
Pivotal noted that the Nielsen data is based on access to SVOD services, not payment for them, so it differs from publicly stated subscribers due to password theft or promotions (I’m not sure why theft is highlighted rather than sharing, which would seem more prevalent).
The Nielsen data pegged Netflix as being in 69 million or 58% of TV households, up 11% vs. a year ago (Netflix itself reported 56.7 million U.S. subscribers as of 3/31/18). Amazon Prime Video had a 39% penetration rate, or 47 million households, up 27% vs. a year ago. Overall, 65%, or 77 million homes had access to an SVOD service.
Back in March I wrote about how Hulu has found a winning formula by putting viewers first, which appears to be translating in strong growth. On last week’s podcast, Colin and I discussed Hulu’s 800K subscribers to its vMVPD Live TV service and how they complement the SVOD service. Despite its gains, Hulu remains in flux with a number of senior executives being reorg’d out of the company late last week.
The next big question is who will actually take control of Hulu as part of the Fox asset sale - Disney or Comcast? (I think Hulu would be more beneficial to Comcast) With its strong growth and other advantages, Hulu has developed into a unique asset in the TV world.