Hulu confirms upcoming subscription TV service at Upfront

Of all the SVOD services out there, Hulu has the most kinship with traditional television. It gets linear programming shortly after initial airing, and its three owners (Disney-ABC, NBCU, and Fox) are network giants. Heck, the service’s tagline is “Come TV with us.” So it’s fitting that yesterday’s Madison Square Garden presentation, featuring presenters such as Hugh Laurie, Amy Poehler, and Aaron Paul, was billed as an Upfront rather than a NewFront.

Among other news, CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed recent reports that, come 2017, Hulu will launch a live-TV package that will compete with the likes of Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. (Several hours after the NewFront, Variety reported that Hulu is looking to include local TV channels in the new package.)

Hopkins also said that Hulu will hit 12 million U.S. subs by the end of this month, which amounts to year-over-year growth of 30%.

In other news, Hulu has announced that it’s bringing The Mindy Project back for season five, and renewing its drama The Path for a second season. The service also announced an upcoming push into the documentary space with the launch of Hulu Documentary Films. HDF’s first major acquisition is a new Ron Howard-directed doc about the early days of The Beatles, tentatively titled Eight Days a Week, which will debut this fall on Hulu and in theaters. In addition, Hulu will be debuting a second election special starring Robert Smigel’s Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. (Given that Donald Trump had just emerged victorious on the GOP side, the timing of the announcement was fortuitous – for both Hulu and the comedy gods. Triumph will have plenty of material to work with.)

Like many digital media companies this month, Hulu is delving deeper into virtual reality. In a partnership with Live Nation Entertainment, the company will make select concert performances available to VR users. Hulu has already made other VR content available. Its virtual reality app, said SVP of Advertising Peter Naylor, commands an average user time of 12 minutes – ten minutes more than the average for VR.

On the nerdier side of things, Hulu announced a new partnership with Nielsen: The service will use Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings product to measure OTT viewing in the living room. “While data isn’t new to advertising, it is fairly new to TV, and it is going to change TV as we know it,” Naylor said.

In other news, Hulu is partnering with Havas Media and the ad tech firm BrightLine on a new interactive advertising format. And the research firm Millward Brown will help provide marketers and advertisers with studies and statistics related to OTT and living room viewership. Hulu announced Magna Global is a beta partner in that initiative.

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