Hulu on Wednesday announced a slate of new shows, including two new live-action Marvel programs and a series starring Nicole Kidman based on the thriller “Nine Perfect Strangers.”
The flurry of activity comes as Walt Disney Co. has emerged as the majority owner of the Hulu streaming service, after the Burbank media giant purchased the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox for $71 billion. Disney now owns 60% of Hulu, which it aims to bring to profitability in fiscal year 2023 or 2024.
At an upfront presentation in New York on Wednesday, Hulu provided a glimpse into what its content will look like after Disney’s expanded ownership. Although Disney is launching its own streaming service later this year, Hulu is expected to be an important platform for distributing content from Marvel and other Disney brands.
Hulu has 26.8 million monthly paid subscribers across its on-demand-streaming and live-TV offerings.
“It’s the stories you love delivered whenever you want in a curated personalized user experience,” Chief Executive Randy Freer said during Hulu’s presentation. “TV is no longer driven by gatekeepers. It’s driven by consumers, and that’s where Hulu shines.”
Hulu said it will launch two live-action series, based on Marvel properties Ghost Rider and Helstrom, in 2020. “Marvel’s Ghost Rider” will follow Robbie Reyes, an anti-hero who lives on the Texas-Mexico border and is bound to a demon. “Marvel’s Helstrom” is about two siblings who are children of a serial killer.
The Santa Monica streaming service also said it will have a series based on the book “Nine Perfect Strangers” that will star actress Nicole Kidman. The thriller features a group of people who go to a health and wellness resort run by Kidman’s character, but something unexpected happens. The series will be co-written by show runners David E. Kelley and John Henry Butterworth.
Hulu said it is bringing more food-centric content to its platform in a partnership with Vox Media Studios, Momofuku chef David Chang’s Majordomo Media and Chrissy Teigen’s production company Suit & Thai Productions. One of the shows, tentatively titled “Family Style,” is about how people show their love by cooking and eating together.
Hulu also ordered a limited series starring Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes based on the ABC News podcast “The Dropout.” Hulu also said it is renewing for a second season comedy series “Ramy” and “Pen15.” Hulu also has a two-year deal with Teigen and Suit & Thai Productions to develop original content that could include scripted drama or talk shows.
Hulu and other companies this week will showcase new content coming to their platforms in a bid to woo more advertisers. Upfront digital video ads are expected to grow to nearly $4.4 billion this year, up about 20% from 2018, according to research firm EMarketer.
Hulu says the median age of its customers is 31 and estimates roughly 21 million of its viewers are cord cutters or people who have never signed up for a cable subscription.
“These are people you are not going to reach with your conventional TV [ad] investments,” said Peter Naylor, senior vice president and head of advertising sales, during the presentation. “Now is the time to shift even more of your budget to Hulu.”
Hulu said it will launch a new way for advertisers to target consumers who binge watch three or more episodes of the same series at once. The company says about 40% of its viewers binge watch more than one series each month. Hulu declined to go into the details of how the service will be structured, but said it could potentially include a personalized offer from a brand. The company said it will roll out the new ad option in beta in the fourth quarter and open it to all advertisers next year.
Hulu also unveiled a new program called Friends With Benefits that will reward customers who pick titles of movies they don’t recognize. For example, a fake movie called “Bouquet” could unveil a reward of flowers from an advertiser for a Hulu user.