At the start of a busy CES as well as a transformative period when Disney moves to take majority control of the company, Hulu today announced that it ended fiscal 2017 with more than 17 million total subscribers in the U.S.
The figure, which includes all SVOD and live TV plans, represents an increase of more than 40% — or 5 million — since Hulu last reported subscriber numbers in the spring of 2016. Extrapolating for household populations and password sharing, the total audience for Hulu is now estimated at 54 million unique viewers.
Netflix remains the clear category leader in terms of subscribers, with a global total of 109 million and 53 million in the U.S.
One advantage Hulu has over Netflix and Amazon, the company emphasized: its on-demand library. In 2017, it grew to more than 75,000 episodes of television, spanning 1,700 titles, among them This Is Us, Lost, How I Met Your Mother and Golden Girls. The company says that is more than double the number available on other top SVOD services.
Hulu CEO Randy Freer, who took the reins last year when Mike Hopkins departed for Sony, called 2017 “a momentous year for Hulu. We took several major steps to become a 21st century direct-to-consumer media company, evolving into both an aggressive SVOD business and a formidable new live TV provider.” The coming year, he added, “is going to be even bigger, as the company invests more in content – live, library and original – as well as technology and data to make Hulu the leading pay TV choice for consumers.”
The past year was also a milestone for Hulu, which is controlled by NBCUniversal, 21st Century Fox and Disney, with Time Warner also retaining a smaller stake. Disney announced its plans to acquire most Fox assets, including its Hulu stake, prompting some Wall Street analysts and industry insiders to speculate that Hulu could become an important weapon for Disney in the streaming wars with Netflix.
In addition to the subscriber and content numbers, Hulu said its advertising revenue reached $1 billion for the first time. In terms of demographics, its viewers have a median age of 31 (25 years younger than the average broadcast TV viewer) and a media annual household income of $92,000.
While the announcement did not break out numbers for Hulu With Live TV, the company’s skinny-bundle offering, Hulu said in December subscribers to the bundle spent more time watching content per day than the average linear TV viewer.
Genre-wise, the top three dramas on Hulu in 2017, based on hours watched, were Law & Order: SVU, This is Us and The Handmaid’s Tale. The top comedies were South Park, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers.