Hulu NewFront: Scale, new measurement solutions, and more

By Emma Witkowski, Managing Director, Digital Investment Lead, West Coast & Atlanta

Six billion hours watched in 2017. Time spent increased by 60%. And over 20 million subscribers. Growth and scale was a big focus at this year’s Hulu NewFront event, and they delivered.

Per usual, Hulu’s Newfront was not short on talent at all – although this year they were a bit more niche than the big names of previous years. The two crowd pleasers were: one, Elizabeth Moss and Samira Wiley, the stars of The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu announced a third season for the show), and two, Mindy Kaling, who talked about a new Hulu original series based on the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. They also brought out the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, comedian Sarah Silverman (talking about her show I Love You America, Ramy Youssef and Jerrod Carmichael (announcing the new show RAMY), Andre Holand and Bill Skarsgard (looking at their new show Castle Rock from Stephen King and JJ Abrams),  and Christopher Abbott and Kyle Chandler (who star in Catch 22 with George Clooney).

Star power and new shows aside, there was other data for advertisers worth noting. There are now 75,000 episodes available on Hulu – that’s twice as many as any other streaming platform, including Netflix. Eighty percent of Hulu’s viewers are light TV viewers (according to Nielsen). And, 50% of their audience hasn’t seen your ad on traditional linear or cable television, which goes to show unique reach.

Here’s what else caught my eye:

Further developments in Hulu’s user experience. Live TV is becoming on-demand: a new Hulu feature will allow users to receive notifications on their phones when something they like to watch is starting (like live sports). They’re also enabling a new TV-to-mobile feature – if you’re watching a game and have to leave the house, you can then pick the game up on your phone exactly where you left it on TV.  Another new feature will enable users to tell Hulu to stop suggesting certain programming to them. And finally, they’ll soon be giving viewers the ability to download and play back shows – with ads in the downloads. All in all, it goes to show how Hulu is becoming the complete TV experience.

Advertising propositions. There’s a lot to be said for content with a light ad load that’s viewable, brand safe, and is only paid for on 100% ad completion. Hulu also announced several partnerships in the measurement space to tie viewership back to sales, across automotive (a partnership with Polk), retail (Nielsen’s buyer insights), and CPG (a partnership with IRI to track in-store and out-of-store sales), along with a partnership with Experian. And last but not least, they’re also launching the ability to dynamically insert ads within live TV, targeted specifically towards individual viewers. That is a game changer.

Ultimately, Hulu has become a must-buy for many brands. The platform offers a premium environment that’s 100% brand safe and viewable, and their past challenges of scale aren’t an issue anymore. Their smart partnerships close the loop on measurement and tie exposure back to ROI.

What makes this event different from the types of deals we drive with partners every day?

We drive deals for our clients day in and day out when working with Hulu. But the key value here was for our clients to get up close insights into the brains (smart developments in measurement) and beauty (amazing content) that Hulu brings.

The only downside? No George Clooney at the event.