Los Angeles - Hulu will have premiered 20 first-run titles
by the end of this year and expects to double that number two years from now,
and it's almost inevitable some of those future titles will be in the kids
space, said acting Hulu CEO Andy Forssell told reporters at the TCA press tour on
"Kids is incredibly powerful on subscription VOD," Forssell
told B&C after a session for four of Hulu's upcoming series. "I
think at some point it will actually make sense to do kids, we just haven't
chosen to do that next, and there's nothing in the works. But I've got to
believe in next year or two it will make sense... [I]t's almost inevitable
because it's a natural chunk of value that people put a lot of weight on a
subscription service. "
Children's programs have been a focus of Hulu's SVOD
competitors, with Amazon
on Wednesday greenlighting five more kids pilots, in addition to its three
children's series in production, and Netflix
has a deal with DreamWorks Animation to premiere a slate of original series
based on the studio's franchise characters. Forssell said Hulu's investment in
the space would be determined by when it thinks it can do a project well.
"We started out with incredible respect for how hard it is
to make TV," he said. "Most TV turns out to be mediocre even though there are
talented people involved. That's why we don't say, 'Let's do 20 original series
this year,' because I don't think we do a good job at it. You've got to build
Hulu also announced Wednesday several new exclusive shows it's bringing to the service later this year: Run (Aug. 20), a four-part drama about inner city life starring Olivia Colman (Rev) and Lennie James (Line of Duty); Fugget About It (Oct. 13), an animated sitcom about the misadventures of Jimmy Falcone, a former mob boss who enters witness protection in small-town Canada; and The Strange Calls (Oct. 19), about bizarre late-night phone calls in a place where people turn to chickens and mermen go to the school dance. Hulu will additionally return Misfits for season five and Chris O'Dowd's Moone Boy for season two.
Other highlights from Forssell's Q&A with reporters
- Hulu will continue experimenting with different
ways to roll out its original series. For the upcoming suspense-comedy The
Wrong Mans, it will premiere an episode a week on the free service, while
putting all six half-hour episodes up at once on Hulu Plus. For Seth Meyer's
animated superhero comedy The Awesomes, it will debut two episodes at once,
then one a week because the show is still in production. "There's no formula, I
think it's going to be different for different types of shows," Forssell said.
"It's different for us than Netflix, where their roots are here's a whole show.
I think it would have felt odd for them to do something weekly. For us it was
more of a debate. We have weekly TV. We have two axis [Hulu and Hulu Plus]. We
have to think along both those axis."
Forssell sees Hulu Plus becoming more of a priority for the company in the
coming years, but for now likes the balance of both a subscription and free
service. "The economics of that business let us do a lot more, so over time it
would make sense for us to advantage it," he said. "But I don't see any time
soon seeing no exposure on the free service because we love exposure to the
audience and we can drive a lot of revenue."
While Hulu has next-day rights to many broadcast shows, Forssell sees the model
moving to an eight-day delay, like Fox has done for its programming, though he
said Hulu doesn't affect that strategy. He does, however, see a place for Hulu
to help aggregate an authenticated audience. "We see a cool opportunity for
Hulu there, but again we're not going to make it happen, the content community
and cable and MVPD community need to say TV Everywhere's not moving as quickly
as we hoped it would, but how do we change that vision," he said. "It's
something we can help with if they want us to."