Posts for 'Hulu'

  • Nielsen: Hulu's Growth Rate is Highest Among Major SVOD Services

    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.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #422: Exploring Hulu With Live TV’s 800K Subscriber Count

    I’m pleased to present the 422nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Hulu’s CEO Randy Freer said in a CNBC interview that the company had “surpassed 800,000 subscribers” for its Hulu with Live TV service. It was the first time Hulu has revealed subscribers for its skinny bundle service which was launched just over a year ago.

    Colin and I are both impressed with the number, which represents 4% of its overall 20 million subscribers and probably puts it in fourth place in the category behind YouTube TV, Sling TV and DirecTV Now. Based on rough calculations, the Live TV service is likely generating almost $300 million in run-rate revenue now (whether its profitable is another question). That’s a strong start and more evidence Hulu has found a winning formula.

    Back on the SVOD service, we also discuss James Murdoch’s comment that about half of Hulu’s subscribers are taking the ad-supported option, (which Hulu said is actually more than 60%), but that would still be down from “the vast majority” which Hulu has consistently said in the past. Finally, we discuss the pros and cons of either Comcast or Disney taking control of Hulu due to the battle over 21st Century Fox assets. I wrote last week Comcast would benefit more.

    (Note, Hulu’s VP of Ad Sales Jim Keller will be on Colin’s panel “Connected TVs' Ad-Supported Future” at the VideoNuze Online Video Ad Summit on June 12th)

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  • Why Comcast Should Take Control of Hulu

    Yesterday’s confirmation by Comcast that it is preparing an all-cash bid for Fox assets that would top Disney’s current bid came as no surprise. All that remains now for this corporate drama to go into overdrive is the decision on June 12th in the AT&T-Time Warner court case. If that deal is approved (which I believe is likely), Comcast is expected to formalize its Fox offer almost immediately. As these machinations continue, one looming question is what will become of Hulu?

    Hulu is of course a joint venture among Disney, Fox and Comcast (via its NBCUniversal acquisition), with each company owning 30% and Time Warner owning 10% (that’s rounding as Hulu employees also own a piece). That means the ultimate owner of the Fox assets - Disney or Comcast - will also become a majority owner of Hulu. It seems to me Hulu would be more valuable to Comcast, and indeed Comcast should be angling to try to figure out how to take control of Hulu regardless of how the larger Fox deal sorts out. Why?

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #418: Why Skinny Bundles Could Succeed

    I’m pleased to present the 418th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Earlier this week, I wrote how I’ve been rethinking the opportunity for skinny bundles. I’ve been skeptical, but I’m becoming more optimistic because of expanded local broadcast TV carriage (YouTube TV in particular has invested very heavily), parent companies’ larger strategic priorities that are motivating them to subsidize skinny bundles’ lack of profitability and the ongoing value of linear TV if priced appropriately.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I explore all of these reasons in further depth. Skinny bundles are also benefiting from the quality of SVOD’s programming, which makes second-tier cable networks not included in skinny bundles less missed - a dynamic that could have broad consequences for pay-TV in general. We also discuss how Hulu with Live TV could be one to watch among skinny bundles as it benefits from the 20 million plus SVOD subscriber base.

    It’s still extremely early days for skinny bundles but the likelihood of their success is definitely improving.

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  • Hulu to Offer Ad-Supported Downloading as Subscribers Pass 20 Million

    Hulu had a lot of updates at its NewFront/Upfront presentation this morning, but among the most interesting for me was that Hulu will offer downloading of its content, but with ads included. Since the vast majority of Hulu’s 20 million+ subscribers are on the ad-supported plan, this means Hulu is going to be breaking some new ground in downloading, relative to its ad-free SVOD peers Netflix and Amazon, both of which have been offering downloading for a while.

    VideoNuze readers know I’ve been a huge fan of downloading for years since TiVo first offered it, seeing it as way for time-starved viewers to gain full access to the compelling content available on SVOD or DVR when they’re either not online (e.g. in airplanes), enduring spotty carrier connections (e.g. in trains and cars) or on expensive capped mobile data plans (as most wireless subscribers still are). Since many of us are in these modes very frequently, downloading is essential for allowing us to maximize the value of our monthly subscriptions, which in turn leads to higher satisfaction and reduced churn.

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  • Rethinking Skinny Bundles and Their Impact on Pay-TV

    VideoNuze readers know I’ve long been skeptical about the value proposition of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (“vMVPDs”) or “skinny bundles” as they’re commonly known. But as I touched on in last Friday’s podcast, based on some significant changes over the past year, I’m becoming more optimistic about skinny bundles’ prospects and their broader impact on pay-TV.

    To take a step back, 3 main concerns have driven my skepticism about skinny bundles: (1) their incomplete channel lineups (the “Swiss cheese” challenge of too many holes, or missing TV networks) which reduces their appeal relative to pay-TV’s traditional multichannel lineups, (2) the dubious profitability of skinny bundles, especially given underlying programming costs, which raises the question of just how committed the big parent companies of skinny bundles are to them, and (3) viewers’ migration away from linear TV in favor of SVOD, which is driving up cord-cutting.

    Here’s what’s changed:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #413: Spielberg’s Backward-Looking View On Netflix’s Cannes Film Festival Ban

    I’m pleased to present the 413th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I wade into the debate over Netflix’s films being banned from consideration at the Cannes Film Festival. We were both struck by Steven Spielberg’s support of the ban, as it seems to us backward-looking and dependent on an outdated definition of what constitutes a “film.” That said, we both understand the deep cultural and economic motivations behind banning Netflix. This week’s BBC report that younger viewers are now consuming more Netflix than BBC content reinforces the global vs. local battle that’s unfolding.

    We contrast to this backward-looking approach, by highlighting how Hulu has embraced a viewer-first model, which appears to really be paying off for the service. There are lessons local broadcasters around the world could gain from observing Hulu’s model, starting with giving viewers as much choice as possible.

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  • Hulu Finds Winning Formula By Putting Viewers First

    In his keynote interview at New Bay’s Advanced Advertising conference yesterday, I was impressed with how Hulu’s SVP of Ad Sales Peter Naylor continually said that viewers are now in charge and have vastly higher expectations of their TV experiences. Nothing could be truer in the online video era and by putting viewers first, Hulu has hit on a winning formula.

    One great example of Hulu being viewer-first is how it provides subscribers with the choice of “Limited Commercials” for $7.99/mo or “No Commercials” for $11.99/mo. Naylor reiterated what Hulu has said many times before, that the majority take the ad-supported plan, which on the surface seems incongruous given Netflix’s and Amazon’s success with ad-free services.

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  • Research: Exploring Skinny Bundles’ Momentum with TDG’s Michael Greeson

    Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (“vMVPDs”) or “skinny bundles” have become a very hot topic in the video industry. Offering fewer TV networks and at a lower monthly price they’re seen as a way of keeping cord-cutters in the ecosystem while attracting cord-nevers. To learn more about the dynamics of vMVPDs, industry research firm (and long-time VideoNuze partner) The Diffusion Group recently completed a comprehensive study of vMVPD subscribers. I interviewed Michael Greeson, TDG’s president and director of research, to learn more.

    VideoNuze: From a top-line perspective, what are the most important takeaways from your research?

    Michael Greeson: First and foremost, while these services are successfully connecting with cord-cutters, they are entirely missing out with cord-nevers. Cord-cutters account for 54% of total vMVPD subs. The consumers were largely driven from legacy services by high service costs and paying having to pay for channels they don’t watch, and vMVPD services appear to better address these needs.

    Cord-nevers, on the other hand, account for only 9% of vMVPD subs—clear evidence that these offerings are failing to resonate with younger buyers. And for good reason: cord-nevers are largely driven by a genuine lack of interest in multi-channel pay-TV services. They prefer a ‘build it yourself’ service that allows them to select and pay for only the channels they want, versus signing up for a bundle of channels.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #403: TV Ads Continue to Evolve; Exploring Facebook’s Video Strategy

    I’m pleased to present the 403rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week Colin shares thoughts on a keynote session from CES he watched featuring Turner’s Chairman and CEO John Martin and Hulu’s CEO Randy Freer. Colin zeros in on the discussion around addressable/targeted ads and how vital they are to profitability and keeping TV competitive with SVOD. Turner has been among the most aggressive TV networks investing in data and segmentation and is clearly urging the industry forward.

    We then transition to discussing Facebook’s News Feed algorithm change, which I wrote about earlier this week. Colin and I are struggling with how to synch up the de-prioritization video is now going to receive with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s repeated assertion that he wants the company to be “video first” in all that they do.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #402: Hulu’s Growth, DVDs Fall and CES Recap

    I’m pleased to present the 402nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week we start by discussing Hulu’s growth to over 17 million subscribers, which it reported earlier this week. Both of us are impressed by the numbers, which makes Hulu a firm #3 in the SVOD market. The key number that we’d like to know is how many new subscribers are taking the ad-supported version, which has dominated in the past.

    Hulu’s and SVOD’s growth have come at the expense of viewers owning and renting video, as Colin explains in his review of recent Q4 ’17 DEG data. DVDs fell a whopping 22% vs. Q4 ’16 and rentals were down as well. The only category that grew was SVOD. Related, the dominance of SVOD makes me wonder how Apple is going to monetize its high-profile original TV shows. If Apple sticks with a transactional model it will be facing serious headwinds.

    Finally, Colin shares a few thoughts on CES product news from Samsung, LG and Intel.

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  • Hulu Hits 17 Million Subscribers as Monthly Growth Appears to Remain Constant

    Hulu announced that it now has over 17 million subscribers including both its SVOD and live TV service. The last time Hulu publicly reported, in May, 2016, it had 12 million subscribers. So the 5 million increase translates to approximately 250K per month. Though Hulu didn’t break out subscribers to its live TV service, which launched in May, 2017, assuming maybe 5-10% of its monthly gains are for live TV, then the traditional SVOD service is adding around 225K to 240K subscribers per month.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #393: Hulu’s CEO Departs; Amazon Studios’ Brain Drain

    I’m pleased to present the 393rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    It’s been a big week for executive changes in the SVOD world. Hulu’s CEO Mike Hopkins is departing to become chairman of Sony Pictures Television. Randy Freer, president and COO of Fox Networks will take over as Hulu’s new CEO. Colin and I both think Hopkins accomplished a lot in his four years at Hulu and we review the company’s progress. Still, the SVOD space is more competitive than ever and Hulu has a range of challenges ahead of it.

    Speaking of executive changes, Amazon Studios is undergoing a brain drain, with its head Roy Price leaving due to sexual harassment charges followed by 3 other senior executives. Amazon Studios was already under pressure to create blockbuster programming and these management changes would seem to only increase the pressure. We dig into what’s happening at Amazon.

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  • Hulu’s CEO Hopkins Departs With Strong Record But Looming Challenges

    Hulu announced yesterday that CEO Mike Hopkins will depart after four years running the company. Hopkins is heading to Sony Pictures Television where he’ll become chairman. Taking over as Hulu CEO will be Randy Freer, currently the president and COO of Fox Networks Group and a Hulu board member. Fox is one of the main owners of Hulu.

    Hopkins leaves Hulu with a strong record of accomplishment, but with many challenges still looming. He joined Hulu in October, 2013 just a couple of months after the company’s owners reversed course, deciding to invest another $750 million rather than sell it outright.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #386: Roku’s IPO, T-Mobile-Netflix Promo, Hulu-Spotify Bundle, Newsy to Cable TV

    I’m pleased to present the 386th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    After taking a couple weeks off from the podcast, Colin and I are back, and today we discuss 4 different industry stories that have caught our attention. First up, just before Labor Day, Roku filed its S-1 IPO document, sharing financial details for the first time. Colin and I are both struck by the strength of Roku’s “platform revenues” and believe the company’s strategy of innovating with low-priced streaming devices to gain market share has opened up many revenue options (though Colin’s a bit worried about Roku losing its valuable neutrality position in the wake of launching the Roku Channel this week).

    We then move on to T-Mobile’s plan to give away Netflix to its unlimited family plan subscribers. It’s the latest “video as bait” play by a wireless carrier, and we both see this trend accelerating. Another interesting bundle play this week was the $5/mo promotion from Hulu and Spotify. We discuss its potential to extend beyond the initial college student target.

    Finally, Colin and I were both intrigued by a plan unveiled by Newsy, a popular millennial-focused news app, to create a linear TV channel by taking over Retirement Living TV’s pay-TV subscribers. It’s a relatively unusual move given most TV networks are launching OTT apps these days.

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  • Broadcast TV Poised to Play Bigger Role in Skinny Bundles’ Success

    The competitive dynamics among skinny bundles are still developing, but one thing is becoming increasingly clear: including a full array of broadcast TV channels in all of the biggest U.S. markets, and even many of the smaller ones, will be table stakes. It seems as if a week doesn’t pass these days without one of the five major skinny bundles announcing a new carriage deal for certain broadcast channels in a variety of local markets.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #385: The Role of Advertising and Subscriptions for Premium Video

    I’m pleased to present the 385th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On today’s podcast, Colin and I discuss the role of advertising and subscriptions for premium video. I wrote about this topic earlier this week, observing that video providers today are experimenting with all models to see what succeeds. The urgency to find the successor to the lucrative multichannel bundle approach is becoming more urgent as cord-cutting increases.

    Colin and I both believe the picture is currently quite murky. We contrast the success Netflix, for example has had with ad-free viewing while subscribers to both CBS All Access and Hulu still appear to prefer to pay less and get a full ad load.

    I think there’s real power in a brand’s original identity and it’s quite hard to transition from one model to another. Colin sees more upside from “freemium” approaches that introduce viewers to content with ads but then try to upsell them to subscriptions.

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  • Nielsen Boosts Distributed Video Model By Crediting Facebook, YouTube and Hulu Views

    Nielsen announced this morning that it will begin giving video clients credit in its Digital Content Ratings service for views generated on Facebook and YouTube. Hulu will also start giving certain content partners credit for current series available on its streaming service.

    The move is significant because it means an independent third party measurement service will be providing audience metrics that can be used when aggregating total viewing across platforms. It’s particularly noteworthy because video providers are leveraging the “distributed model” by pumping video through YouTube, Facebook and other social media platforms to massively expand their reach and drive their business models.

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  • Expensive SVOD Talent Wars Are Unlikely to End Well

    Another day, another high-profile - and no doubt incredibly expensive - SVOD talent deal announced. Today’s is between Netflix and the ultra-successful producer Shonda Rhimes, poaching her from ABC, where she’d been for 15 years. For Netflix, it followed last week’s deals with the Coen brothers for a new series and the company’s first acquisition, of Millarworld, plus many others.

    While Netflix has been busily announcing new originals - no doubt timed to offset the fallout from Disney’s decision not to renew its pay-1 output deal upon expiration in 2019 - Amazon hasn’t been sitting still. Last week the company lured Robert Kirkman, creator of the blockbuster “The Walking Dead” series on AMC in an exclusive 2-year deal. That followed recent deals for many other originals, with a heavy emphasis on kids shows. And don’t forget Hulu, which is coming off its biggest original success to date with “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

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  • U.S. SVOD Adoption Up to 64% of Homes, With 29% Streaming Daily

    U.S. adoption of Netflix, Amazon Prime and/or Hulu is up to 64% of homes, an increase from 47% in 2014, according to Leichtman Research Group. Of those who have one of these SVOD services, 51% now have more than one of them, up from 35% in 2014.

    On our podcast last week, Colin and I talked about how the number of people taking multiple SVOD services has become a central trend in the industry and is helping spur growth for all providers. Both Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Netflix’s Reed Hastings have insisted over the years that people will take multiple services, and that appears to now becoming reality.

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