Company / division: Hulu
Hulu Will Spend $2.5 Billion on Content in 2017 (Sep 14, 2017)
Variety has a quick run-down of some new data from App Annie about the usage of various mobile video apps in the twelve months to July 2017, and it shows YouTube to be dominant in that category, with 80% of total time spent for the top 10 apps. Also notable is that YouTube grossed more than Hulu on the strength of its YouTube Red subscription service, suggesting that it may be doing better than widely perceived, though that may also reflect YouTube’s role as a more mobile-centric platform while many users may pay for their Hulu subscriptions through a computer or TV box. Also worth noting is that over half the top ten video apps come from non-traditional TV brands – only HBO, Starz, CBS, and Showtime hit the top ten, while the rest are all digital-native brands. Also notable is the fact that all of those traditional TV apps have pursued the same successful strategy of opening up their entire libraries for digital rather than trying to create a digital service that’s complementary to traditional TV – that’s the winning strategy in this space, and Disney should take note as it readies an ESPN direct to consumer service for early next year.
Netflix and HBO Lead Emmy Nominations (Jul 13, 2017)
YouTube and Netflix Dominate Teens’ Video Viewing (May 2, 2017)
Netflix still has a huge lead in the streaming wars, but Hulu’s smaller service has loyal users (on TV sets) – Recode (Mar 22, 2017)
I added the parenthetical in the headline because that’s the key caveat here, as the piece itself points out. There’s a great chart in here comparing penetration of TV viewing over WiFi by various services with the average hours spent viewing those services in households that use them, and it highlights Netflix’s dominance as both the most popular and most used service within that narrow viewing category. Hulu does well on time spent too, though with far fewer households, while Amazon Video comes bottom of the four, and YouTube has reasonably high penetration but low time spent (again, on TVs in homes). Obviously, all four services can be viewed outside of homes too, and it’s YouTube in particular would score much higher in a mobile-only comparison. But for the other three services, in-home viewing on a TV is a critical segment of the audience, and it’s worth noting the order on that basis: Netflix first, Hulu second, and Amazon third. Sadly, there’s no traditional content in here for comparison’s sake – much higher percentages take pay TV services in the US than any of these services, and time spent is quite a bit higher too. The full Comscore report (linked below) is well worth reading in its entirety – lots of other interesting data points.
Hulu unveils new website for upcoming live TV service, shows off new UI, more – 9to5Google (Mar 16, 2017)
There’s not a ton of new detail here – Hulu briefed reporters on a lot of this back at CES, but there are a couple of new tidbits. Notably, it sounds like the DVR function will feel a lot less DVR-y and more like an online read-it-later service for video, which sounds a lot more user friendly than a lot of the cloud DVRs I’ve seen. The multiple simultaneous streams and profiles are interesting too – that makes it much more of a pay TV replacement than most of what we’ve seen. I have to say, as a cord cutter, I’m probably more excited about Hulu’s entry in this market than all the others I’ve seen. Big questions, as usual: local content and whether/where it will be available, and which channels get left out to hit the usual $30-40 price bracket.
Hulu Live TV Service Won’t Have Viacom Networks – Variety (Mar 10, 2017)
As I mentioned in the context of the YouTube TV launch announcement a couple of weeks ago, every one of these streaming pay TV services has to make a set of sacrifices from the traditional TV lineup in order to hit the target $35-40 price point. In the case of Hulu’s service, it looks like Viacom’s channels will be among those sacrificed, which is in keeping with both the end of Hulu’s recent video on demand deal with Viacom and with Sony’s dropping of the Viacom channels a while ago, as well as their absence from YouTube’s service. DirecTV Now and Sling both continue to carry at least some Viacom channels, but those channels have become less and less popular over recent years as flagships MTV and Comedy Central have faded in cultural relevance. There’s something of a revival going on at MTV at the moment under Viacom’s new leadership, but these are still probably the easiest set of major channels for a new service to live without. Based on what I’ve seen so far of Hulu’s service, it looks like being one of the more compelling offerings to launch, particularly if it bundles in the traditional Hulu VoD service.
Further evidence here that if tech is to disrupt TV, it’s often going to do it without the support of the traditional TV industry, which is in some cases starting to pull back its content to its own platforms while leaving others like Hulu out in the cold. Viacom’s new CEO said on its recent earnings call that the company would be pulling back from SVOD services, and this is the first sign that he meant what he said. This is also the single biggest reason for SVOD providers to invest in a big way in original content which can’t be yanked away due to skittishness on the part of content providers. Hulu is a unique animal in this space, with several of its its owners among its biggest content providers, but it’s still vulnerable to this kind of thing, and the other big streamers even more so.