Hulu Targets Binge Viewers With Full Original Series

Hulu LLC, the television streaming service owned by Hollywood media companies, plans to provide all episodes of original series at once to paying subscribers, exploiting the popularity of so-called binge viewing.

Six episodes of “The Wrong Mans,” a co-production with the British Broadcasting Corp., will become available on Nov. 11 for Hulu Plus subscribers, Andy Forssell, acting chief executive officer, told reporters today at a TV critics conference in Beverly Hills, California. Customers of the free service will have to wait each week for a new episode.

“With that show, it’s so easy to binge watch,” Forssell said. “We think it will be a good opportunity to draw subscribers to Hulu Plus.”

Hulu is taking a page from its larger competitor, Netflix Inc. (NFLX), which releases whole seasons of new programs at once, letting eager viewers plow through all episodes quickly.

“The Wrong Mans” is a comedy about two office workers who become caught up in a deadly criminal conspiracy.

Los Angeles-based Hulu will release 20 exclusive and original series this year and plans to increase that to 40 within two years, Forssell said. When possible, the service will release all episodes of a show at once on Hulu Plus, the $8 a month service.

Hulu, where annual revenue doubled last year to $690 million, is owned by Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC, 21st Century Fox Inc.’s Fox and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s NBCUniversal. The owners canceled a sale of Hulu earlier this month and decided to invest $750 million to help attract subscribers and take on Netflix.

Co-Financing Shows

Even with more than 4 million subscribers, Hulu Plus loses money, mostly due to higher content costs, a person familiar with the matter said last month. Depending on how it grows, Hulu Plus could be profitable in 18 months, the person said. Hulu’s free, advertising-supported version, which attracts 30 million unique visitors a month, makes money, the person said.

To gain access to more exclusive content, Hulu and its competitors will become more involved in co-financing programs with partners, Forssell said. Hulu co-funds shows with the BBC, while Amazon.com Inc. is sharing costs of CBS Corp. (CBS)’s “Under the Dome” series.

“More than becoming our own studio, that’s the direction I see the industry moving,” Forssell said.

Hulu will air two episodes tomorrow of the animated series “The Awesomes,” a comedy about a pack of superheroes from Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live” and Mike Shoemaker of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” it said today in a statement on its website. “Quick Draw,” a comedy Western, becomes available on Aug. 5, it said.

Eva Longoria

“Behind the Mask,” a documentary series on amateur and professional mascots, will be available for streaming on Oct. 29 and “Mother Up!,” an animated series with the voice of Eva Longoria, will be posted on Nov. 6.

Hulu also announced new exclusive shows. “Run,” a four-part series about inner-city life, becomes available on Aug. 20. The animated series “Fugget About It,” featuring a former mob boss who enters witness protection in small-town Canada, will begin streaming on Oct. 13. “Strange Calls,” about a detective demoted to investigating weird phone calls, will start on Oct. 19, the company said.

“Misfits” will return for a fifth season and Chris O’Dowd’s “Moone Boy” is getting a second season, Hulu said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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