Hulu now has more than 25 million subscribers, a nearly 50 percent annual increase, as the streaming service greatly expanded its content library.
Hulu attributes part of that growth to its exclusive content offerings and not just original series. Older hit series like ER, Lost, Bob’s Burgers, and 30 Rock are only available on Hulu, as it has started purchasing the rights away from Netflix. A study by the research firm 7Park Data published in April 2018 found that 97 percent of streams by Hulu subscribers were licensed series, with 89 percent of Hulu subscribers watching licensed programming first before viewing original series like The Handmaid’s Tale.
Hulu’s content growth strategy isn’t going to slow down, either. Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, recently discussed plans to expand Hulu’s content offerings and open it up to an international audience.
Hulu’s 25 million subscribers all live in the United States. To put that into context, Netflix has approximately 58 million subscribers in the US, with an additional 70-plus million in international markets. Iger has repeatedly said that part of his strategy to grow Hulu is to develop more original content and license series from international markets, but that’ll have to wait until Disney’s acquisition of Fox closes, giving it a majority stake in Hulu.
Disney is also gearing up to launch its own streaming service, Disney+, but Iger has said that Hulu will remain home to more adult-oriented series, classic television shows, and exclusive Fox offerings. It’s unlikely that Hulu will carry original Disney series, which are much more likely to stream exclusively on Disney+.
Iger and his board clearly see Hulu as an underused streaming service. Hulu reported that binge-viewing is prevalent among its subscribers; over half of all viewing sessions of the streaming service’s top 100 shows consist of at least three or more episodes watched in one sitting. Time spent watching series on Hulu also increased by 20 percent in 2018, according to the company.
In 2019, the company is focused on securing more exclusive licensing rights and building its slate of original programming. It’s unclear when Hulu will be offered to an international market as Disney cements the final details with Fox over its acquisition, but that’s certainly planned to move forward in the future.