Hulu to personalize ads, VoD, buy-in new originals for TV service

Hulu came out fighting at its advertising Upfront presentation, unveiling a beta for its new streaming service at $40, brand-new advertising tools and more original programming partnerships, and it claimed that 47 million people watch Hulu regularly.

Hulu said that in partnership with advanced advertising player BrightLine, it will bring E-commerce into the living room, offering viewers the opportunity to engage directly inside a commercial with a personalized, location based overlay, where viewers can select a movie theater, time and purchase movie tickets through their connected TV. The company said it plans to enable similar capabilities for other brand categories, like retail and quick-service-restaurants, in 2018.

Starting this fall, Hulu advertisers will have access to a validated measurement solution across screens in partnership with Nielsen, by extending Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) to the living room.  Hulu said it has 47 million unique viewers, as measured by comScore, with 32 million of those who opt for ad-supported content. That leaves just 15 million not watching the ads, or watching less ads.

Nielsen will tag, collect and calibrate data from Hulu subscriber data and from other third-party sources, and Hulu will offer sales effectiveness measurement tools through partnerships with SambaTV and Nielsen Catalina Solutions.

And as it has switched on the new live streaming, Hulu said it will offer dynamic ad insertion against a personalized streaming service, which will give brands the ability to target specific audiences whether that’s on cable networks or on cloud DVR, using the two minutes of local breaks per hour.

The new service including live TV channels is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Xbox One, and Chromecast, with more devices coming soon, priced at $39.99 a month. The service includes Live and On Demand content from over 50 TV channels including sports and news, as well as 50 hours of cloud DVR recording.

An initial 7-day free trial for Live TV and 30-day free trial for Add-Ons is offered and available in 50 US states and will allow multiple concurrent streams.

Hulu Live TV was first announced back in January at CES and it tries to recommend shows that people will like, based on what they’ve already told the service they enjoy, plus past viewing habits. Hulu has not revealed which personalization system it uses at this point and we think it has probably written something itself, which we suspect would not be as good as those on the market.

If you pay an extra $4 your plan will drop all commercials. Hulu also offers an add-on for $15, which lets you stream to an unlimited number of devices at home or to three devices on the go. Yet another $15 takes your Cloud DVR up to 200 hours. Showtime is an additional $8.99 a month.

Pretty soon you could be looking at a $83 subscription, something close to cable TV – but is it actually any better?

In a separate announcement this week Hulu said that it had access to NBCU channels including News, Sports and Entertainment Networks NBC, Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!,  MSNBC, CNBC, NBCSN and the Golf Channel. It also said it now has TV channels from 21st Century Fox, Disney, CBS, Turner, A+E Networks and Scripps.

Hulu also announced two new original series in Marvel’s Runaways from Marvel Television and The First, a drama set in the near future about the first human mission to Mars created by Beau Willimon of House of Cards fame. The series will go into production later this year and will premiere on Hulu in 2018. Hulu also announced that it will be the exclusive subscription streaming home to FX’s freshman comedy series, Atlanta as well as the second series of The Handmaid’s Tale.