So far, the battle between Netflix and Hulu has been something akin to a classic Harlem Globetrotters-Washington Generals matchup. However, Hulu has of late been showing some signs of life thanks to two initiatives that actually seem designed to draw in more subscribers.
Hulu this week officially brought Seinfeld aboard as part of its streaming lineup, marking the first time the classic sitcom will be available for streaming. Hulu is also offering subscribers the option to add Showtime to their monthly package for just $9 per month, which is $2 less per month than subscribing to Showtime’s streaming service alone.
These two moves aren’t exactly Earth-shaking but they do point out that Hulu finally seems to be getting ambitious again after its years-long Comcast-induced slumber. Hulu right now has roughly 9 million subscribers in the United States, which pales in comparison to Netflix’s 40 million American subscribers and its 65 million subscribers worldwide.
Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins told CNN this week that having 40 million American subscribers is “what we’re shooting for” with its new initiatives. That said, if Hulu really wants to compete with Netflix it will have to do much, much better when it comes to original content.
Hulu has no original content that’s on par with House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Daredevil, all of which have been smash hits over at Netflix. Getting original content up on Hulu figures to be more difficult simply because Hulu is owned jointly by NBCUniversal, Disney–ABC and Fox. If any of those companies get what they think will be a hit show on their hands, they’ll want it on their own networks instead of on Hulu, whose original content tends to be low-cost fare aimed at appealing to niche markets.
That said: It’s great to see Hulu at least putting up some effort to being a Netflix rival, even if it still has a very long way to go.