Hulu added 8 million subscribers in 2018 to end the fiscal year with more than 25 million total subscribers across its subscription on-demand and live TV services.
The company, which will soon be controlled by Disney after years of equal ownership shared by majority stakeholders Disney, NBCUniversal and Fox, has seen a dramatic 48% year-over-year increase in subscribers.
In making the announcement, for years an annual ritual timed to CES in Las Vegas, Hulu said the figure “catapults” it ahead of the nation’s largest cable and satellite television providers. Given that most of the 25 million are subscribing to the main Hulu SVOD offering and not the pay-TV bundle, however, that comparison doesn’t seem completely apples to apples. Hulu also still trails Netflix, which leads the streaming pack with 137 million global subscribers, 58 million of them in the U.S.
“Consumers have spoken loudly about their desire for more choice and control in their TV experience,” Hulu CEO Randy Freer said in a statement. “They are seeing the enormous benefits of streaming, they’re deciding which content and brands are most important to them, and they’re choosing Hulu.”
The company’s advertising revenue increased more than 45% to a record $1.5 billion last year, and its advertiser base grew by 50%. Advertisers may well be enticed by Hulu’s audience demographics. The median age of a Hulu viewer is 32 – nearly 25 years younger than the average broadcast TV viewer (56), the company said.
Viewers who subscribe to Hulu + Live TV spend about half of their time watching on-demand or recorded programming. To fuel its momentum, Hulu upgraded its streaming technology to improve stability and reduce buffering and increased its spending on exclusive content.
Hulu expanded its on-demand library to more than 85,000 TV episodes in 2018 and became the exclusive streaming home to shows like ER, Lost, King of the Hill, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, Living Single and Animaniacs. The tally of episodes is nearly double the number offered by Netflix and Amazon, according to Hulu’s internal metrics and data from third-party measurement firm Ampere.
This content augments the lineup of current shows from Hulu’s owners, Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal. (Disney is about to close its $71.3 billion acquisition of most Fox assets, which will give it 60% control of Hulu.)
The Hulu Originals slate racked up 27 Emmy nominations last year. After winning two Golden Globes for Season 1, Hulu’s dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale returned in Season 2 with a 76% increase in total viewing.
The Stephen King drama series Castle Rock was Hulu’s highest performing new original, and the second most-watched Hulu Original, behind The Handmaid’s Tale.
Hulu’s documentaries Minding The Gap and Crime + Punishment were recently shortlisted for the Best Documentary Oscar. Minding The Gap , a Sundance jury award winner, was named Best Documentary by the 2018 New York Film Critics Circle.
The service added Starz as its fourth premium content add-on option. It joins a bundle of eight live Discovery networks and a new Spanish-language live TV add-on, which includes live programming from ESPN Deportes, Universo, CNN En Español and History Channel En Español.