For the last several years, if someone wanted to find old network reruns or limited on-air programming complete with commercials, Hulu was the place to be.
Available via web or through a streaming box like Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV, Hulu was an unassuming service that really held very little promise as Netflix and Amazon Prime gobbled up market share. Although Hulu still only boasts about 10 million subscribers to Netflix’s 45.7 million U.S. members, its three major owners, 21st Century Fox, Disney and NBCUniversal are trying to push it into being more than a third-rate streaming service.
Hulu’s Streaming Dream
Hulu’s dreaming big, much bigger than would have been possible, perhaps, before the recent FCC ruling on set-top cable box competition.
Hulu intends to start its own cable service that will allow subscribers to not only select the small packages they’d prefer, but to do so affordably in comparison to their local cable companies. Instead of the average $80 package cable subscribers sign up for today, Hulu’s packages are expected to be priced around $40, or possibly less for a package with limited bells and whistles.
The details are unclear, but Hulu has speculated it might offer services including premium cable channels like HBO, cloud-based digital recording of live programming and on-demand programming, much like what digital cable offers now. The company is not currently discussing building its own set-top cable boxes, but a second part of their initiative does leave that question open.
The Hulu Combination
Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, was recently interviewed by the New York Times about the software driving the new dreams of Hulu. Although he refused to confirm or deny much about the bundles that would be available, the details he did offer were tantalizing. The combination of Hulu streaming and Hulu-bundled television will provide so much content that it has to be filtered somehow, likely through smart personalization, possibly driven by an artificial intelligence.
Although customers will be free to choose anything they want to watch at any time, Hulu will always try to be one step ahead, using smart algorithms to help move them through their viewing day. Hulu’s predictive plans are currently a step beyond Netflix and Amazon’s current best guess at what you want to see next, but are built on the same technology. In the same way, they’re meant to highlight more of what a customer wants and eliminate more noise in a world filled with choices.