Hulu Plus cracks six million subs, invests in content
Michelle Clancy | 01-05-2014
Hulu Plus, the paid arm of the Hulu over-the-top (OTT) online video service, has now surpassed six million subscribers.

And, when it comes to viewer engagement, on the desktop, consumers of the service spend an average of nearly 50 minutes per session and stay engaged for longer stretches than any other ad-supported premium video site in comScore's top 100.

These successes aside, Hulu has been focused on widening its platform support. It has decided to make its advertising-supported content available via mobile devices for the first time, and Hulu in general is now accessible on more than 400 million Internet-connected devices in the United States, including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Chromecast, and most recently, Amazon's new set-top box, Amazon Fire TV.

"After redesigning our living room devices such as Roku and Wii-U, we saw average minutes viewed increase by over 30%," said Mike Hopkins, Hulu's CEO, in a broad-ranging company update. "And out of our tens of millions of viewers, there are 3,000 unique ways Hulu viewers access content on Hulu and Hulu Plus (for example, I watch on my iPad and Apple TV)."

Along with subscriber growth and distribution comes content investments. Hopkins said that over the next year, Hulu will more than triple its content marketing spend to grow awareness for, and interest in, Hulu Originals.

"It's not enough for us to simply invest in acquiring and producing great shows ... we want to make sure viewers know where to find them only on Hulu and Hulu Plus," he said.

So far, Hulu has ordered a second season of Deadbeat, which has become one of the most watched shows on the service in its first few weeks since airing, and has set premiere dates for second season returns of the Awesomes, Quick Draw and East Los High. Also, the Chris O'Dowd comedy Moone Boy has returned for its second season.

Niche content is a focus, too. "Doozers, our first Hulu Original for Hulu Kids, debuted and is setting the pace among the most popular shows on the kids' hub with its first seven episodes," Hopkins said. "Meanwhile, acclaimed sports mascot docu-series Behind the Mask is up for the Sports Emmy next week, which garnered Hulu its first Emmy nomination for a Hulu Original. On May 28, internationally beloved teen dance drama The Next Step debuts in the US just before the highly-anticipated return of breakthrough teen drama East Los High."

And in July, Hulu plans to debut reality TV satire Hotwives of Orlando.

The company has also launched three new ad units. The In-Stream Purchase Unit, set to roll out later this year with Pizza Hut as a launch partner, will enable consumers to make an order for pick-up or delivery without leaving the Hulu environment.

"With our effective targeting capabilities, this new innovation allows advertisers to target the right demographic, at the right time all while allowing viewers to immediately pick up where they left off once their order is placed."

Cross platform interactive ads meanwhile use an algorithm that predicts the appropriate audience for the given brand, and serves an interactive ad that's optimised for the user's device. Corona Extra will launch the first campaign, across mobile devices.

And, the Hulu 360 Ad takes into account the device a viewer is on, and goes "beyond the traditional video ad to serve a groundbreaking viewing experience."

Hulu is also partnering with comScore for multi-platform measurement at an individual viewer level that includes co-viewership for living room devices, Hopkins noted.