Hulu CEO Randy Freer Offers Updated Strategic View To Disney Investors


Hulu CEO Randy Freer delivered an update on Hulu’s strategy during Disney’s Investor Day, arguing the 11-year-old streaming service “has the resources to go head to head with any TV product out there … and win.”

Disney now owns 60% of Hulu, having acquired the 30% stake formerly controlled by 21st Century Fox when it closed the larger Fox acquisition in March. (Comcast has retained its 30% holding, indicating it will stay a minority investor, while WarnerMedia has held talks with Disney about selling its 10% stake.) In remarks preceding Freer’s, direct-to-consumer and international chief Kevin Mayer said the company is “actively evaluating int’l rollout strategies” for Hulu, as well as finalizing bundling options with Disney+ and ESPN+.

Recapping numbers released in January, Freer noted the service has reached 25 million subscribers, jumping up by eight million in 2018, with total viewing hours rising 75% and average time per customer increasing 20%. Churn in March hit an all-time low, the CEO said, without offering a specific number.

“Hulu has always been right at the center of media and technology, and the consumer is at the center of Hulu,” Freer said in a mission-statement-like proclamation.

Hulu’s blend of its live, skinny bundle service, vast library offerings and current season titles “allows us to operate diversified business models across Hulu’s three product lines, and Hulu can monetize all viewing behaviors and patterns,” Freer said.

Advertising offers another revenue stream, with revenue surging 45% in 2018 and the number of advertisers rising 50% to nearly 2,500 brands. Advertisers only pay for completed ads, Freer noted, projecting that the total pool of advertisers will reach more than 10,000, with ad revenue doubling “over the next few years.”

For Hulu subscribers, Freer said, “the lines are blurring between live and on-demand viewing.” By providing shows across four main buckets — current season; past season; live and library —
“Hulu gives viewers a complete TV choice,” he said.
More than 80% of Emmy-nominated shows in 2018 were available through Hulu, Freer noted.

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