Hulu is jumping onboard the original scripted series bandwagon in order to compete with Netflix, Yahoo and YouTube in the competitive online video marketplace.
This week, Hulu announced the original lineup that it has slated for 2012. The first show set to air exclusively on Hulu is the 13-episode show Battleground -- a political comedy following a candidate for the Wisconsin Senate seat.
This is the first original scripted show for the video streaming service and will be followed but two more programs: Morgan Spurlock’s A Day in the Life series, and Up to Speed, a travel show.
Battleground will debut on Valentine's Day and can be viewed as part of its free service or by paying customers on the premium version.
This announcement comes just days after Hulu released that its subscriber numbers and sales figures were growing at a healthy clip. Hulu CEO Jason Kilar told the public that the company revenue grew 60% in 2010 to approximately $420 million in revenue and now has more than 1.5 million subscribers -- a staggering 1.1 million of of which came to the service in the past 12 months.
Hulu is still trailing far behind Netflix's paid service and YouTube's free content -- but it has proven that it has a dedicated following.
The online streaming service owned by NBCUnviversal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Company and Providence Equity partners has offers a premium service for the same price as Netflix's streaming only -- $7.99 per month.
YouTube has spent $100 million to create channels with original content while Netflix has announced the launch of two original premium series' and Yahoo has signed a deal for a animated Web series with Tom Hanks.
Hulu Plus is attracting twice the number of subscribers each day compared to the same time last year with double the content available for viewing.
Content on the site comes from Fox, NBC, FX, ABC, CW, Univision and many others.
Hulu has been able to access the content and the viewership, greatly, because of the advertising market that compensates for the premium content shown. Hulu has attracted a large stable of 1,000 brand advertisers since its inception in 2007. They have even launched an Hulu Ad Swap and Hulu Ad Selector service that not only allows the viewer to choose the content in the ads they watch, but also help the brands and marketers understand the preferences of people viewing a particular program.
A study released in October showed that Hulu has held strong in the realm of advertisement, while it still needs help capturing a broader, more devoted audience.
Americans average 20 hours watching a video in a month, but of that time, only 1.4% of that time was spent watching video advertisements, according to comScore. That is a staggering fraction compared to the 16-30% of advertising allotment from standard cable consumption.
This latest announcement from Hulu is hitting the public just as Netflix prepares to launch its first original series, a “fish out of water” tale from Steven Van Zandt called Lilyhammer and after Tom Hank's announced his Web series partnering with Yahoo.
Hulu has committed $500 million in 2012 to flush out a larger range of fresh and some original content to draw in more viewers and keep them dependent on its particular offerings. I expect that we will hear of more companies such as Amazon, AOL and others dropping serious dollars on original viewing material.