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Before ad buyers in New York, Hulu has brought news that the number of people who pay to subscribe to the online video site has doubled in the past year to 4 million.
The growth is being touted at the company’s NewFront presentation, an upfront-style event. Hulu is one of many leading digital media companies participating in an IAB-sponsored week of festivities meant to draw ad dollars online.
Those who paid for the $8-per-month Hulu Plus service still have to watch commercials. But that hasn’t been a drag on the company’s subscriber base.
Perhaps more concerning for the company is some structural uncertainty as two of its three owners — News Corp. and Disney — have been flirting with a sale. Hulu also lost its founding chief executive Jason Kilar, who resigned this year. He was replaced by Andy Forssell.
Hulu has managed to grow by giving consumers digital access to popular broadcast shows. An attempt to develop an independent identity with original programming has been less successful. Hulu doesn’t have a House of Cards like Netflix does, or even a Burning Love, like Yahoo. The site has been struggling to find a breakout hit, introducing series like Morgan Spurlock‘s A Day In The Life, Battleground and Richard Linklater‘s Up to Speed.
Executives have high hopes for The Awesomes, a superhero show from Saturday Night Live‘s Seth Meyers that will premiere in August. Also coming soon is Mother Up, an animated series featuring ex-Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria as well as The Wrong Mans from James Corden about two lowly office workers caught up in a deadly criminal conspiracy. And Hulu will be one of the main places to watch the digital resurrection of soaps All My Children and One Life to Live.
At the NewFront, Hulu is also announcing Behind the Mask, a series about the adventures of sports mascots, and Braquo, about Paris cops confronting corruption in the ranks. Other new shows include Moone Boy written by and starring Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, Girls) as the imaginary friend of 11-year-old; East Los High, focusing on an inner city school in East L.A. featuring an all-Latino cast; and the exclusive home of Prisoners of War, the Israeli series that inspired Showtime’s Homeland.
Carson Daly will also be hosting a weekly music series featuring concerts and backstage access. And Jay Mohr will be featured as the host of a new game show called Money Where Your Mouth Is being produced by the Believe Entertainment Group.
Meyers was on hand to host the event at Gotham Hall, which featured a performance from Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio of Nashville fame.
“Welcome to the Soylent Green waiting room! If you get that joke, you are not in the demo,” said Meyers as he introduced the presentation.
Later, he added, “Hulu has revolutionized the way we ignore our families.”
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