Earlier this month, Hulu’s CEO Randy Freer enacted some major changes at the company, resulting in a new structure made up of two main groups — one focused on live TV and licensing, the other dedicated to original programming. After this reorganization, Freer told Variety in an interview at Cannes Lions, Hulu’s focus is around “growth.”
First, Freer emphasized Hulu’s reliance on advertising, one of the aspects that makes the streaming platform stand out from its main rival, Netflix. “We believe that advertising, rather than being commercial interruption, can be a strategic advantage for us,” Freer told Variety. “We offer consumers choice. They can have ads or not have ads.”
Currently, “well over 60 percent” of Hulu’s roughly 20 million subscribers use the company’s ad-supported service as opposed to its ad-free option, a figure the company hadn’t announced prior to Freer’s conversation with Variety at Cannes. Currently, Hulu offers brands a wide variety of advertising partnerships, including “custom integrated commercials,” which combine a brand’s messaging with Hulu’s, and the “ad selector,” which lets viewers choose which commercial they want to watch during their show.
As for original series, Hulu is nowhere near as bullish as Netflix, but Freer did note that he “hope[s], as success goes, there’s 10 seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale,” the streaming service’s breakout hit. Overall, Freer said the company will “probably make 20 or 25” original shows in 2019.
What Freer didn’t detail was the streaming service’s fate now that AT&T owns 10 percent of the company, with Disney or Comcast poised to grab up the 30 percent stake owned by Fox. As he said to Variety, “The owners will figure out what that transaction looks like.”