Hulu Makes First Foray Into Long-Form Original Programming

8:00 AM PST 08/03/2011 by Paul Bond
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Morgan Spurlock

The online streamer that competes with Netflix has teamed with filmmaker Morgan Spurlock for a show called "A Day in the Life."

It’s not exactly House of Cards, which Netflix is committing $100 million to, but Hulu is also delving into original long-form programming, its first effort being with filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

Hulu is set to announce today that Spurlock, whose documentaries Super Size Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden are popular selections among Hulu users, will make six episodes of a show called A Day in the Life.

Each 22-minute episode of the show, produced through Spurlock’s production company Warrior Poets, is a documentary-style look at 24 hours in the life of someone famous.

The first episode, about Richard Branson, will stream exclusively at free Hulu and the subscription service Hulu Plus beginning Aug. 17 and new episodes, such as one about music star will.i.am, will be added weekly.

In the Branson episode, we’re first informed he’s “a college dropout who turned a mail-order record store into a $1 billion fortune.” His day starts with taking his wife to dinner in London with the queen and President Obama, then flying the next morning to the U.S., where he’ll wear boxing robes emblazoned with “Bruiser Branson” in order to advertise that one of his 300 companies, Virgin America airlines, now flies between San Francisco and Chicago.

Hulu won’t disclose what it’s spending on the project, though it’s no doubt much less than what its competitor Netflix is spending on its foray into original TV programming, which will consist of 26 episodes of House of Cards from Kevin Spacey and David Fincher.

Prior to A Day in the Life, Hulu’s only other effort at original programming has been The Morning After, a five-minute comedic recap of movie and TV news. A Day in the Life, though, represents Hulu’s first long-form original show, said Andy Forssell, senior vp of content and distribution, and more such programming is on the way.

“You can expect us to continue to do this,” Forssell said. “Working with our major network and studio partners will always be our core, but we’re constantly casting the net wider.”

Forssell said it was no coincidence that it turned to Spurlock first.

“We know our audience very, very well. The data clearly indicates this is something they’d be interested in,” he said. “People who are fans of his stuff tend to really love it, and share it with others. We don’t need it to be a hit in the first four weeks. It will find a home over time.”

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