Hulu Hits 20M Subscribers; Sets Kaling, Blumhouse Series

NEW YORK--Hulu, which now says it has more than 20 million subscribers, announced new programming plans and important changes in its advertising business during its NewFront event Wednesday in New York.

The streaming service unveiled new series from Mindy Kaling and Blumhouse Television, a third-season of the Emmy Award winning original series The Handmaid’s Tale, the acquisition of ABC’s The Good Doctor and a multi-year deal for kids and family programming with DreamWorks Animation.

Hulu also said it will launch dynamically inserted advertising in its Hulu with Live TV product later this year, it will offer ad-supported downloadable content, it will use Nielsen’s Digital Ad Rating for over-the-top as its currency for sales across the platform and it expanded sales effectiveness metrics with tools from IHS Markit, Nielsen Buyer Insights, IRI and Experian.

“Hulu is the complete TV experience for consumers, offering both live and on-demand programming and more consumer choice than ever before,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer. “We are the only place that delivers award-winning content, ad loads less than half that of traditional television, with ads that are always viewable and always in a brand-safe environment -- and we are leading the TV and advertising industries into the future.”

Hulu in January said it has 17 million subscribers. In addition to increasing the number of subscribers, Hulu said engagement with subscribers was up 60% and that 78% of viewing was taking place in the living room on connected TVs.

Hulu made several announcements about new programming.

· Four Weddings and a Funeral: Hulu said it ordered Four Weddings and a Funeral, a limited series produced by Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton from Universal Television and MGM Television based on the 1994 rom-com. It is the second Hulu project for Kaling.

· Ramy: Based on the life experiences of American Muslim comic Ramy Youssef, the comedy series Ramy has been ordered by Hulu. It is being produced by A24.

· Into the Dark: Into the Dark is a new horror event series from Hulu and Blumhouse Television. The first story, The Body, premieres Oct. 5. The second installment, Flesh and Blood, debuts Nov. 2.

· The Handmaid’s Tale: The Handmaid’s Tale has been renewed for a third season. The series is based on the book by Margaret Atwood, who will be a co-executive producer for season three.

· The Good Doctor: The hit ABC series will be streaming on Hulu. The first season is now available to subscribers. Future episodes will become available the day after they are broadcast on ABC.

Hulu’s deal with DreamWorks Animation gives it exclusive rights to future DreamWorks Animation film as well as DreamWorks library films. Upcoming DreamWorks titles include How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; The Boss Baby 2, and Trolls 2.

Hulu will also work with DreamWorks to develop original kids and family series to be streamed exclusively on Hulu.

Hulu’s launch an ad supported downloadable content experience is unique and would create a new opportunity for advertisers to reach consumers at a time when more programming is available commercial free.

[Read: Hulu Optimizes Web Platform For Live TV]

“Our launch of the industry’s first ad-supported downloadable content experience is yet another example of how Hulu is innovating viewer-first ad solutions to drive powerful results for brands” said Peter Naylor, senior VP of Advertising Sales at Hulu. “With downloadable content, we're offering brands more ways to connect with engaged viewers who love the experience of watching television, wherever they may be.”

Hulu’s decision to use Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings for OTT means advertisers can use DAR to measure, guarantee and report campaign audience delivery across all desktop, mobile and connected devices, providing vital insight into viewership on the platform. With 78% of Hulu viewing taking place in the living room, DAR provides accurate, holistic measurement for everyone watching, according to Hulu.

At a time when TV networks are looking for ways to show how powerful their advertising is, Hulu’s deals with companies that measure ad effectiveness is a solid step in the attribution field.

When working with IHS Markit for Polk Campaign Measurement Solutions, Nielsen Buyer Insights, IRI and Experian, brands will be able to bring their own CRM data and Hulu’s first party data to the party.