Remember back in the veritable Stone Age when Netflix and Amazon seemed like the big contenders that would duke it out for streaming supremacy? Things are no longer quite so simple, as Hulu has come storming back from also-ran status to add five million more customers since the company last reported numbers in 2016.
Today, Hulu boasts 17 million subscribers and climbing. It also has major TV awards under its belt, something that took Netflix several years to earn. The Hulu original series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” won two Golden Globes last week, including best drama series. This haul was a strong follow up from the most recent Emmy awards, where the drama earned 10 awards, including best drama, a first for a streaming series.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” was a major winner in the ratings as well, easily Hulu’s most-watched program, ahead of “Law & Order SVU” and “This is Us.” The latter two programs are produced by NBC but are also aired on Hulu through its on-demand streaming service. And that service is also growing, as Hulu now claims to have more than 75,000 episodes of television programs available.
At 17 million, Hulu has a long way to go in order to catch up with Netflix, which currently claims around 85 million subscribers. If Hulu wants to close that gap, now is the time to try. An ever-increasing number of viewers are cutting cable and going with streaming services. As more people are giving streaming a try, the number of available consumers grows. Many are willing to pay for one, two or even three services, but as more come available, audiences will splinter.
Disney is set to launch at least two new streaming services in the next two years — maybe three — including ESPN channels which will offer live sports. Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its live sports coverage.
As cable fades, the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and other sports leagues will be looking for other ways to connect with fans. They’ve already begun to turn to streaming, and that trend will only continue. Will Hulu try to grab some of that action as it strives to keep pace or gain on Netflix and Amazon?
It’s not certain yet. At this point, the company seems intent on adding to its library of options and upgrading its technology. Will this mean a big push beginning in late 2018? Possibly. It needs to be soon, because Hulu’s window of opportunity is quickly closing.