Hulu Launching Ads Aimed at Binge Watchers

Streamer gets more series from Disney’s Marvel TV
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Hulu is introducing a new commercial format designed for binge watchers and a slate of new content the streaming TV company hopes viewers will want to binge watch.

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At its annual presentation for media buyers Wednesday, Hulu said its customer base is now up to 28 million, with 26.8 monthly paid subscribers and 1.3 million promotional account. That compares to a total of 25 million in January.

After acquiring 21st Century Fox, which owned 30% of Hulu, The Walt Disney Co., which also owned 30%, now controls the streamer, which is a big part of Disney’s strategy to get bigger in the direct-to-consumer video market. (Disney also agreed to buy AT&T’s 10% stake in Hulu.)

Related: Hulu Buys Out AT&T's Stake in Streaming Service for $1.43 Billion

While Disney and Netflix dissolve their content deals, Hulu is getting additional Disney content in the form of two new live action series from Marvel Television.

Marvel’s Ghost Rider and Marvel’s Helstrom are slated to debut on Hulu in 2020. Hulu already streams Marvel’s Runaways and previously announced it will be adding several adult animated series featuring Marvel characters. (The Marvel movie franchise, including the blockbuster Avengers film Endgame, will be on the new streaming service, Disney+).

Unlike Disney+, Hulu is ad supported and racked up a 46% gain last year.

The new Binge Advertising Experience is part of Hulu’s effort to create non-intrusive formats. The format is designed to help marketers target binge watchers with creative that is situationally relevant to their viewing behavior.

“This is a monumental time for Hulu’s advertising business and for brands who are looking to reach the most valuable audience in television,” said Peter Naylor, senior VP and head of advertising sales at Hulu. “Because of our viewer-first advertising principles, we’re scaling rapidly. We’re offering advertisers the most sophisticated targeting, the largest addressable footprint in on-demand television, robust measurement solutions, and new ad models. Hulu is future-proofing TV advertising and transforming the way brands connect with consumers.”

Hulu earlier this year introduced Pause ads, which appear when a viewer pauses a show they’re watching. Hulu said it will be expanding availability of pause ads beginning in August.

In other programming news:

Hulu made a deal with Vox Media Studios, David Chang’s Majordomo Media and Chrissy Teigen’s Suit & Thai productions to create Hulu’s first food original shows. The initial project is tentatively titled Family Style and will feature Chang and Teigen.

Hulu greenlit a straight-to-series order for a series based on the book Nine Perfect Strangers produced by Nicole Kidman and Bruan Papandrea, with showrunners David E. Kelly and John Henry Butterworth co-writing. Teigen’s Suit & Thai Productions will also looking to produce other original content, which could range from scripted drama series to talk show, the company said.

Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon will star as Elizabeth Holmes, the CEO of Theranos, in a limited series called The Dropout.

Hulu also renewed its comedys Pen15 and Ramy.

“In today’s direct-to-consumer world, viewers are demanding better when it comes to TV -- from the user experience to their content choices to the advertising,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer. “Hulu’s continued growth, as well as the shows and initiatives announced today, reflect our deep investment in product, programming, brand, customer experience and business strategy to ensure that with Hulu, consumers can connect with the stories they love, at the right time and price, on any device.”

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