Hulu launches its live TV streaming service, announces 47 million monthly viewers, previews new shows at its 2017 upfront event


During its 2017 upfront presentation at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York Wednesday morning, Hulu officially launched its live TV streaming service. The company also used the event to announce the acquisition of two hit TV series and the greenlighting of Season 2 for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” as well as preview some of its exciting upcoming original shows.

Hulu with Live TV

In what CEO Mike Hopkins called the company’s “biggest move yet,” Hulu officially launched its brand new live TV streaming beta service, which it originally announced last year. The Hulu with Live TV (Beta) plan includes live and on-demand programming from more than 50 of the most popular sports, news, entertainment and kids’ channels for $39.99 per month. Hulu also announced an agreement with Scripps Networks Interactive, which brings HGTV, Travel Channel, Food Network and other networks to the new live service and the existing premium streaming offering.

“This is more than just a launch day for us,” Mike said during his remarks. “This is the first step in our launch year. We’ll have a steady drumbeat of new feature enhancements designed to transform the viewing experience.”

Hulu’s core on-demand premium streaming offering, which remains $7.99 per month, has seen strong year-over-year growth, with hours per viewer up 20 percent and total streams up 50 percent. The company will double its investment in acquiring shows this year, Mike said.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” stars Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley and Alexis Bledel address the audience at Hulu’s 2017 upfront presentation.

Content announcements and previews

The first episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was released on Hulu last week, was the company’s biggest premiere in its history, according to Mike. He also announced that the critically acclaimed series has already been greenlit for Season 2.

Since 2015, Hulu has aggressively acquired top broadcast and cable series, with overall streams of these series up 80 percent, according to Craig Erwich, SVP and Head of Content. During his remarks, he announced that Hulu will soon be adding FX Networks’ Golden Globe Award-winning series “Atlanta” and the hit series “This Is Us,” which is produced by 20th Century Fox Television.

Craig also highlighted Hulu’s original shows, which get higher completion rates than almost any other content category on the streaming service. The audience was treated to previews for these upcoming Hulu Originals:

  • “I Love You, America,” a weekly variety comedy show hosted by Sarah Silverman (coming this summer)
  • Marvel’s “Runaways” (coming later this year)
  • “Future Man”
  • “The First”
  • “The Looming Tower”

“We’re taking bigger swings in the stories we’re trying to tell and are continuing to bring aboard the most unique voices in entertainment to help us tell them,” Craig said.

Previously announced series “Castle Rock” (Stephen King and J.J. Abrams, coming in spring 2018) and “The Mindy Project” (entering its final season) were also featured.

More ad innovations

Peter Naylor, SVP of Advertising Sales at Hulu, made several ad-related announcements, including Digital Ad Ratings (DAR), courtesy of a partnership with Nielsen, coming this fall to count every viewer for every ad on every device for Hulu campaigns. Magna, Horizon Media and GroupM are among the early participants for this new ad currency.

Hulu is also working with SambaTV and Nielsen Catalina Solutions to roll out sales effectiveness solutions to measure the products and services sold as a result of ads viewed on Hulu.

The company is expanding its partnership with BrightLine to bring innovative, interactive T-Commerce ad units to Hulu content. These ads will allow viewers to make transactions (e.g., purchase a movie ticket) directly within a Hulu commercial.

Peter also noted that dynamic ad insertion will be available in Hulu’s live TV streaming service. Advertisers will also have the ability to refresh ads in Hulu’s Cloud DVR, which means they’ll always be serving current, relevant ads to viewers regardless of when the content is being watched.

“Nearly a century of progress has led us to this moment – everything TV should be, everything advertising can be – because this morning, we launched the future of television,” Mike said.

Read more about Hulu’s new live TV streaming service, as well as its original series orders, new content deals and premium advertising innovations. Hulu is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Company, Comcast and Time Warner.