Hulu hits 25M subscribers, $1.5 billion ad revenue in 2018

Hulu hits 25 million subscribers, and earns $1.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2018. CEO says it will catch up to Netflix.

by Jessie Mendoza

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The streaming giant Netflix spends billions on programming and that caused them to double the number of their subscribers in the US. Even with that data, their competitor, Hulu, is positive that they can still catch up to the success of Netflix.

Hulu CEO Randy Freer pointed out that with their 2018 record, it’s absolutely possible for them to compete with Netflix. On January 8, 2019, Hulu revealed that in 2018, their US subscribers have increased by 8 million. Now, they have a total of 25 million subscribers.

With Hulu’s content library expansion, they get about 50% annual increase in subscribers. They may not have beaten Netflix yet in terms of subscriber count, but with their good run in 2018, they are now bigger than Comcast which is the biggest cable company in the US. The irony there is Comcast is one of the owners of Hulu.

We added more subscribers in the U.S. than Netflix. We expect to grow more this year than we did last year.

– Randy Freer, Hulu CEO

Hulu’s growth is attributed not just to their original TV series, but also to their exclusive content offerings. Big TV series hits like “Bob’s Burgers”, “ER”, “Lost”, and “30 Rock” are available on Hulu only. The reason for that is because Hulu bought the rights for those from Netflix.

A report from 7Park Data back in April 2018 revealed that 97% of Hulu subscribers streamed licensed TV series, while 89% of Hulu subscribers watched licensed programming first before watching Hulu’s original TV series such as “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

In 2018, Hulu Originals have accumulated 27 Emmy nominations. One of Hulu’s pride is that they’re the only platform where people can watch a lot of full seasons of Emmy-nominated TV series of 2018.

Hulu’s content strategy

The content growth strategy of Hulu isn’t going to slow down anytime soon because Disney CEO Bob Iger has already discussed plans of expanding more of Hulu’s content offerings, and also draw international audience to Hulu.

The total US subscribers of Netflix is 58 million. They increased US subscribers by:

– 1.96 million in the first quarter of 2018
– 674,000 in the second quarter of 2018
– 1.09 million in the third quarter of 2018

Netflix is expected to announce their fourth-quarter earnings later this month, January 2019. Meanwhile, Netflix has over 70 million international subscribers.

Hulu has a lot to catch up to Netflix. One of their strategies is to create more original content and to license as many TV series as they can from international markets. But for the shopping spree to happen, they have to wait for Disney to complete its acquisition of “21st Century Fox” (Fox Entertainment Group). When that happens, Hulu will be 60% owned by Disney, giving Disney a majority stake in it.

Though Disney is also launching their streaming service called “Disney+”, Hulu will remain to be a platform for adult-oriented TV series, classic TV shows, and exclusive Fox offerings. Hulu will unlikely carry original Disney series because they are more suited on “Disney+”.

Disney CEO Bob Iger admits that Hulu is underused. He said that it’s usual for Hulu subscribers to binge-watch. According to Hulu’s data, more than half of viewing sessions of Hulu’s top 100 shows consist of minimum three episodes watch in one sitting only. Hulu revealed that the time spent by Hulu subscribers watching their content increased by 20% in 2018.

Talking about increase in numbers, Hulu also reported that their advertising revenue grew over 45%, equivalent to USD 1.5 billion. It’s the highest in Hulu’s history. Meanwhile, the “Castle Rock” TV series is the highest-performing original of 2018 in Hulu.

Consumers have spoken loudly about their desire for more choice and control in their TV experience. In 2018, Hulu led the industry in attracting and engaging subscribers, building a powerful technology stack and cultivating a brand that both consumers and advertisers love.

Looking ahead, Hulu is in the best position to be the #1 choice for TV, live and on-demand, with and without commercials, both in and out of the home.

– Randy Freer, Hulu CEO

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