"Russian Hulu" Planned by Local Networks as Netflix Competitor

MOSCOW, RUSSIA -A general view of Red square and Kremlin-Getty-H 2016
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They hope to increase revenue they make from their content online by ending the practice of using separate platforms and services.

Russia's leading TV networks plan to launch a "Russian Hulu" in a bid to make more money out of their video content online.

The country's top media groups, including Channel One, Gazprom Media, VGTRK, National Media Group (NMG) and CTC Media, are discussing the creation of a joint project that would be a local equivalent of Hulu, local business newspaper Kommersant reported, quoting several anonymous executives in the industry.

The "Russian Hulu" would become the main online platform for content aired by the country's major free-to-air networks, including Channel One, CTC, Gazprom Media's NTV, TNT and TV-3, VGTRK's Rossiya 1, and NMG's Channel Five and REN TV.

Two years ago, the idea was already discussed within the framework of the Media Communications Union, but the leading networks chose to develop separate online video services or collaborate with independent online platforms, such as Rutube and Videomore.

However, lackluster revenue from the resulting online content offerings, coupled with the arrival of such a major international competitor as Netflix early this year, has apparently pushed the networks to reconsider their strategies.

Netflix's local competitors have accused the global streaming giant of enjoying tax privileges and called for legislative restrictions on its operation, which are now pending. Netflix hasn't disclosed how many subscribers it has in Russia.

According to the Kommersant report, the "Russian Hulu" would employ both advertising-supported and subscription models, but negotiations about the specifics of the project "could take a while."

So far, Hulu has not announced any plans about a possible Russian launch.