HULU and the Rise of Entertainment on Demand

You’ve heard the industry talking about how no one is watching TV anymore, especially not those pesky millennials who ONLY watch video on their phones and can’t stop with the emojis, snapchatting, periscoping and what not.

But, that’s not exactly true. Ask your 17-year old cousin or your 21-year old babysitter and she’ll likely tell you that she and her friends are TOTALLY into Pretty Little Liars (The most “Social” show on TV), finishing up Season 1 of Last Man on Earth on Hulu or binge-watching all 10 seasons of Friends on Netflix (because they were in 1st grade when the show aired its finale in 2004).

It’s not that they AREN’T watching TV. The truth is and this is no surprise, they are just watching differently than the generations before them. They want it WHEN they want it and WHERE they want it.

Sometimes WHEN they want it is truly live TV, Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC Family when they tune in to live tweet their favorite show (with 1M of their closest friends on social media). But more often than that, the 18-34 audience segment is turning to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to get their entertainment fix. The biggest factors contributing to this are:

  1. COST: According to data compiled by Ninja Metrics, streaming services cost 39 percent less than a bundle of expanded basic cable channels.
  2. FLEXIBILITY: This generation is changing jobs, housing and relationship status at a much greater rate. And getting TV/cable set up at your house sometimes feels like a bigger commitment than marriage these days.

The good news for TV viewers like myself? The younger audience segments actually love quality content (even though most are just stealing their parents HBO GO passwords vs. subscribing themselves). This is pushing entertainment execs to keep coming up with great shows.

So, what do we do with this information as marketers? Traditional TV still has a place for many products, especially in large categories like CPG and Auto where mass reach is a key objective. But as viewership, especially among the youngest audience segments continues to migrate away from traditional TV, it is important that we follow the trends and take note of alternate viewing habits. What we’ve entered is a true environment of Entertainment on Demand.




However, other subscription services, specifically Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and HBO GO have come onto the scene and really overtaken Hulu, especially in terms of original content. Netflix has hit home runs with series’ Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Hulu has yet to find their ‘silver bullet’ in terms of programming and as Forrester Analyst James McQuivey was quoted in a recent AdWeek article, they need to do so soon if they want to stay relevant. “Suddenly for Hulu,” said McQuivey, “It’s either put up or shut up time.” And, Hulu says they are ready to do that.

“We have a mandate to swing for the fences,” said Craig Erwich, SVP, head of content for Hulu. “There has definitely been a mandate to get in business with the best talent that’s available, support them creatively and financially, and be ambitious in terms of talent and creative vision.”


Hulu has spend the last few months making big announcements about new series acquisitions as well as launches of original programs. Here are a few that could have some potential to be game changers for Hulu.

11.22.63: Based on King’s best-selling novel from 2011, 11/22/63 tells the story of an English teacher (James Franco) who finds a time portal and tries to prevent President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Difficult People: Produced by Amy Poehler and starring Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner, Difficult People revolves around best friends living in New York City — with their behavior landing them in awkward situations. It also involves some of the folks from Funny or Die, so you know it will make you laugh.

In a recent early screening, reviewers compared it to Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fused with edgy relationship comedy of “Sex and the City.”

The Mindy Project: A well-loved FOX sitcom is moving Season 4 as a Hulu Original.

Hulu has also recently inked deals to pick up exclusive streaming rights to high profile programming like South Park, the original CSI and the entire library of Seinfeld (which reportedly cost them $150 Million).

We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Hulu moving into the upcoming season to see if they can make a move and start pulling even more share in the streaming space. One “must-see” show could be a huge win for the digital TV giant. I, for one, am hoping it’s James Franco.



– Written by: Danielle Perez, Media Director

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