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CandW discuss Hulu’s present performance and pending proprietorship

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Hulu has been tight-lipped about Live’s performance, but the CEO comes clean. Fox claims half of Hulu subs pay for ad-free viewing, which is at odds with the CEO’s statements. Comcast and Disney could end up controlling Hulu. Which is the better home?

Chapter 1: Hulu Live has 800,000 subscribers (1:30)

Randy Freer, Hulu CEO has not made a public statement about how many Live subscribers the service has attracted since its launch in May of 2017. That changed this week. He says the service has 800,000 subscribers. That makes it the fourth largest vMVPD service, behind YouTube TV, Sling TV, and DirecTV Now.

Chapter 2: 40%-50% of Hulu subs watch ad-free (10:00)

Randy Freer has said several times that the “vast majority” of Hulu subscribers do not elect to take the $4 per month ad-free option. They prefer to watch with ads and pay just $8 per month. Mr. Freer’s assertions were cast into doubt this week when James Murdoch, CEO Fox, said:

“There’s an option for the limited-ad experience, and it’s about evens, I think.”

Other estimates suggest 60% of Hulu subscribers do not take the ad-free-viewing option. Either way, this is a long way from Mr. Freer’s “vast majority.”

Even with at least half of Hulu subscribers watching with ads, the service commands the highest engagement of all SVOD services.

Chapter 3: Is Comcast or Disney the better majority owner? (15:00)

Will thinks that Hulu is a better fit for Comcast than Disney. He argues Comcast needs a vMVPD option to remain competitive with AT&T. I think Hulu would be better off majority owned by Disney. Hulu Live is competitive with Comcast X1, and the cable giant may not have the same interest as Disney in seeing Hulu prosper.


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