on by in Advertising, Announcements, News

This morning at The Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, we had the opportunity to share with an audience of distinguished TV critics a few of the 10 new shows on our upcoming slate of Hulu Original and Exclusives Series.

We’ve been talking about our line-up of Hulu Original and Exclusive Series all year–from announcing our 2013 slate of shows in January, to giving a sneak peek to Madison Avenue advertising heavyweights at the Hulu Upfront in April.

We began the treasure hunt for smart, distinctive TV content in 2011, as we aspired to be a home for great TV and help viewers find and enjoy the shows they love. We introduced some initial shows—shows from both the U.S. and the U.K. —shows we looked at and said “this is really great TV,” and from the enthusiastic response from viewers like yourself, we found that many of you agreed.

Since 2011, we have continued to delight our audience by introducing shows we’ve hand selected just for them—shows they’re seeing for the first time, and falling in love with, on Hulu. This year, we continue to deliver the great TV shows you have come to expect and enjoy from us, and give you a reason to come to Hulu to watch shows you can’t find anywhere else. 

At the end of this year looking back, we will have launched about 20 titles, including shows like “The Awesomes” (launching tomorrow, Aug. 1), “Quick Draw” (Aug. 5), “Behind the Mask” (Oct. 29), “Mother Up!” (Nov. 6) and “The Wrong Mans” (Nov. 11), which we showcased today in front of a crowd of television critics.

We’re also excited to announce for the first time, several new exclusive shows we’re bringing to the service later this year: “Run” (Aug. 20), a powerful four-part drama about inner city life starring Olivia Colman (“Rev”) and Lennie James (“Line of Duty”), “Fugget About It” (Oct. 13), an outrageous animated sitcom about the misadventures of Jimmy Falcone, a former mob boss who enters witness protection in small-town Canada, and “The Strange Calls” (Oct. 19), about bizarre late-night phone calls in a place where people turn to chickens and mermen go to the school dance. Fans can also expect the returns of hit series found exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus, “Misfits” (season 5) and Chris O’Dowd’s “Moone Boy” (season 2).

You can expect to see our number of first-run titles double in the next couple of years as we find more and more great shows to engage and excite viewers. We’re getting bigger and we’re getting better, and today we’re giving you just a sampling of some of the original and exclusive shows you’ll see from us this year, and can expect to see from us in the coming years. Happy watching, and let us know what you think.

The Awesomes

Quick Draw

The Wrong Mans

on by in Advertising, News

Tonight, as football fans gorged on pizza and beer, Superbowl commercial fans gorged on ads, and Hulu was there to serve a heaping helping of this year’s “big game” ads in the Hulu’s Toyota AdZone. As the confetti settles in New Orleans, and junk food settles in our stomachs, let’s take a look at this evening’s most liked ads.

Wild Card: Cars.com: Wolf

A car-buying couple misses the drama they used to have before discovering Cars.com. So their salesman puts them between a wolf cub and its snarling mother. Baby animal trend officially established for 2013.

Wild card: Hyundai: Stuck
A clever ad about how I feel very day on every single road there is.

What? I live in Los Angeles.

Wild Card: NFL: Sandcastle
Just hilarious.

15: Oreo: Whisper Fight
A cowboy-style bar fight breaks out in a library, and everybody whispers. What’s the fighting all about? Whether the cream or the cookie is the best part of the Oreo. We say the cookie. Or do we?

14: Dorito’s: Fashionista Daddy
There were two Dorito’s ads in AdZone, and this one got the most Likes. While not as entertaining, original, funny, or as inventive as the “Goat 4 Sale” ad, this one does have men in women’s clothing. So it’s got that going for it.

13: Grande Papi
This is exactly how I feel when I go out with my 4 month-old son strapped to my chest. We look so awesome. I stalk through the grocery aisles, feeling like a member of some kind of baby SWAT team, with my adorable kid and all my gear. Taco Bell captured the essence of proud daddyhood in this ad, and Hulu viewers rewarded that effort with Likes.

12: Kia: Space Babies
A fantastical super-bowl style ad that has nothing to do with the Kia Sorrento. Beautiful to look at, and babies.
Downside: voice-activated service requires driver to call out its unwieldy name: “Uvo”.
Upside: Baby animal trend perpetuated.

11: Audi: Prom
Dad’s Audi inspires courage in a lonely teenage boy. In this spot, Audi makes being a loner look cool and daring.
The awesome shot of the Audi’s illuminating headlamps as the engine growls to life is now a familiar staple of the Audi Super Bowl ad.

10: Milk: The Rock in Morning Run
An entirely awesome ad, and my personal favorite of 2013. To me, this is a pitch-perfect over-the-top Super Bowl ad. Tons of action and hyperbole, and the product is still front and center.

9: Jeep: America Will Be Whole Again
Continuing their “patriotic” theme from last year (minus the crumbly spokesman), Chrysler hit us with a heavy 2 minute spot about our heroes returning home. Viewers across America responded positively.

8: Skechers GORun 2: Cheetah
A running shoe commercial where a man outruns a cheetah. Nothing groundbreaking (we had a cheetah ad last year), but we all got a kick out of seeing the runner exchange a fist bump with the gazelle at the end.

7: GoDaddy: Perfect Match
A big hit with our software developers (all of whom are more attractive than “Walter”), this ad featured Israeli model Bar Refaeli smooching a nerdy guy… for a long time. Popular (I assume) for shock value, this ad lip-smacked its way into our top 10.

6: World War Z: Big Game Spot
A 30-second condensed version of the trailer, this ad opened World War Z to an audience who may not be familiar with the acclaimed zombie novel. Fans of the zombie genre have been hungry for this one, and this spot whet their appetites even further.

5: Fast & Furious 6 (Fast 6): Trailer
The ad that made me laugh the most this year was oddly enough, not supposed to. This short teaser for the sixth installment of the franchise following a group of street-racing thieves (who apparently become superhuman) grabbed a lot of attention in this year’s AdZone.

4: Budweiser: Brotherhood
So, I cried at a beer commercial tonight. That happened. Every year Anheuser-Busch airs an ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales, and quite frankly I’ve always found them to be on the boring side. These are just horses, where’s the beer? But this year, I was moved by the story of a young man raising a Clydesdale, only to send the horse far away to be a part of the famous Budweiser team. Their reunion at the end brought a tear to my eye, and I suspect, to many others. A sentimental ad from Bud comes in at number 4.

3: Volkswagen: Get In. Get Happy.
The always-upbeat tall white guy in the office, made more emphatic by his Jamaican accent, brought laughs to everyone at my Superbowl party. In advertising, happiness is a pretty good thing to sell, and Volkswagen nailed it. They didn’t try to play on the success of last year’s ad, they just went for it. Hulu viewers responded by giving it the 3rd most Likes in this year’s AdZone.

2: Taco Bell: Viva Young
Hauling out an old chestnut of a concept that worked well for Six Flags, Boost Mobile, the movie Cocoon, and the Jackass series, Taco Bell hit a home run with a group of senior citizens partying into the night.

1: Ram Trucks: Farmer
In a two-minute stunner, Dodge changed everything we’ve come to expect from a Super Bowl ad. No music, no explosions, no famous actors, just a somber monologue from radio legend Paul Harvey, accompanied by striking gritty visuals of farmers at work. Dodge extended a hand of respect to its customers with this ad, with its carefully metered pace and honest tone. Resonating with viewers across America, this unique spot grabbed our attention, and the number one slot in this year’s AdZone.

on by in Advertising, News

Earlier today, I sent the below email to the Hulu team:

In what is an understatement, this email has proven difficult for me to both write and send.

I’ve decided to depart Hulu in Q1. I am currently working with the Board to ensure there is ample runway to manage this transition.

Rich Tom will be doing the same, with roughly the same departure date. Rich and I have been fortunate to build and innovate alongside each other these past 5+ years and our plan is to do more of that on the road ahead.

It is impossible to state in words how much this team means to me, how much Hulu means to me. But I’ll do my best.

For me, the journey started with a move to California and a walk into an empty office suite in early July 2007. In the weeks afterward, some brave souls that were willing to look past the many naysayers and ClownCo moniker jumped aboard and got about the business of innovating and building. Five and a half years later, thanks to the missionary work of this amazing 600+ worldwide team and courageous, prescient partners, we are fortunate to have collectively built a culture that matters, a brand that matters, a business that matters.  Our convictions and our relentless pursuit of better ways have made the difference and will continue to make the difference. We have grown from a few hundred thousand in revenue in 2007 to generating almost $700 million in revenue in 2012 alone. We have created a video subscription service that is growing unusually fast, adding over 200K new subscribers in the past 7 days alone (a new record). We have proudly generated over $1 Billion for our content partners since we excitedly entered private beta in October 2007. Our video advertising service delivers world-class results and sets the pace for the industry. We have authored scores of inventions along the way.

And while the above outputs are impressive and laudatory, the things that have clearly brought the most joy to my heart (and what I believe to be the most important inputs in our business) have been this team and the values and principles we hold dear.

Perhaps the best way to express this is to let you in on a little routine I have followed these past 5+ years. Each day, as I enter the office lobby, I take the time to enjoy the many portraits of our team members that line the walls. From Damon gorging on a 2 foot high cold cut sandwich to Jesse showing off his sweet kicks. Portraits from Beijing to Boston and the other fine Hulu offices in between. Those portraits – along with the What Defines Hulu? document on those same walls – mean so much to me, as it is a daily and vivid reminder of how great this team is and how we bring such passion and principle to what we do. Without fail, I am reminded in those moments of reflection why we do what we do, why this work is a mission and never a job.

I’ve been so fortunate to play a role in this amazing, ongoing journey. My decision to depart has been one of the toughest I’ve ever made. Though the words will fall short of the intended mark, please know how much this team means to me and how very thankful I am to be able to innovate and build alongside you each day.

As dates and other items get solidified, I will update the team.  But in the meantime and for much of Q1, I will be here as we get off to a very strong start in 2013…

Jason

on by in Advertising, Announcements, News

I learned a few things during this year’s Super Bowl.

1) It’s really hard to dress for a Super Bowl party when both teams have the same colors. And,

2) I learned what it’s like to be a girl watching her boyfriend get beaten up, as I watched Tom Brady get repeatedly sacked in the final minutes.

At least the ads gave me some chuckles. So I’m here to recount those chuckles now to you.

Best of the Best

Everyone has their favorites. I’m no exception. This year I was pleasantly surprised to find myself guffawing in a very unattractive manner at the Doritos “Sling Baby” ad. The combination of mean kid getting his comeuppance, mild baby abuse, and old lady vengeance just works for me. Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest has evolved from amateur night to some of the most impressive and memorable ads of the game.

My other favorite this year is Skechers’ Mr. Quiggly. I want Mr. Quiggly to go jogging with me every day, and I long for that British announcer to narrate the entire jog in play-by-play fashion, preferably saying “Mr. Quiggly” many, many times. This would make my mornings spectacular. If there’s any way someone out there can arrange that, I’d appreciate it.

Movie Trailers for Bad Movies

I’m not saying these movies will be bad. I’m just saying they almost certainly will be.

Every year during the Super Bowl, we get treated to movie trailers for the year’s biggest flops. Sahara, anyone? This year I’m calling out Battleship (because that’s easy and I don’t like to be wrong), and I’m gonna go ahead and throw that GI Joe movie out there, as well. The commercials for these movies were seen by 90 million people, but it’s a guarantee I won’t know a single person who goes to see the actual films.

Bud Light Switches It Up.

I have never been a fan of Bud Light’s cartoonish, kindergarten-colored ads featuring youngsters drinking beer in someone’s backyard. This year I was both flattered and taken aback when Bud Light began advertising directly to me. In “Work,” soft blue lighting and the sophisticated beats of Avicii set the background for a well-dressed group of young professionals gathering in a modern steel and glass building, drinking Bud Light Platinum. It provides wild contrast from last year’s “Drinkablility” campaign, which basically asked me to funnel Bud Light because it’s “easy to drink.” Since I’m terrible, I plan to continue drinking snooty microbrews no one has heard of. But well played, Bud. Well played.

Some Bizareness

You’d have to ask me a whole lot of times before I would be able to come up with a good reason why the NFL should have to air a commercial for itself during the Super Bowl. That being said, however, “Timeline” wasn’t all that bad.

Cars.com has always had very strange ads, and I’ve disliked them year after year. But this year, I’m finally on board. In “Confident You,” the guy with the confident, bobbing singing second head makes me smile every time I re-watch it.

Celebrity Appearances, the Pointless and the Sublime

Sometimes a celebrity is the focal point of a Super Bowl ad—that pretty person who moves the story along, entertaining you while extolling the virtues of the product you suddenly feel the urge to buy. Acura’s Seinfeld-heavy NSX commercial and Matthew Broderick’s Honda CRV spot are examples of the celebrity appearance done properly. The best celebrity appearance this year was Mean Joe Greene in Downy’s Unstoppables commercial, reprising his role from the classic Coke Ad.

There are times, too, when the celebrity is the product, like the David Beckham underwear ad, or John Stamos’ iffy yogurt ad. (He’s John Stamos, and he’s Greek, which I suppose is the point. But what is the point exactly? I choose the meaning to be, If You Eat This Yogurt, John Stamos Appears In Your Kitchen And You Get To Punch Him.)

Then there’s the true emerging trend of 2012: Celebrities appearing in weird places for five seconds. Last year Audi gave us a chuckle with about eight seconds of Kenny G. This year, many more hopped on the “commercial cameo” bandwagon. Regis Philbin shows up for 2.5 unmemorable seconds in this Pepsi Max ad.  In “King’s Court”, Pepsi also tossed in three seconds of Flavor Flav. Motley Crue made an instantly forgettable appearance in Kia’s “Dream” commercial. (Mötley Crüe had an excuse at least, as they appeared next to Adriana Lima in a bikini.) Even poor little Mr. Quiggly scampered onto the bandwagon, throwing in 1.5 seconds of Mark Cuban for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Samsung definitely pulled off a head scratcher with their celebrity appearance, tossing in English band The Darkness, performing their one hit single that is now a decade old. Bizarre, but certainly memorable.

For Pepsi, Elton John reprised the role he has always had in my nightmares, as Evil Hipster King with Plastic Sunglasses.

Finally, of course, there was Betty White. I’ve never considered network promos to be real Super Bowl ads. (They’re normally just regular promos and I’m used to ignoring them.) But NBC scored with their promo for The Voice by bringing Betty back. Betty’s Snickers ad was the talk of the 2010 Super Bowl, and she was sorely missed last year. Kudos to NBC for turning a bland TV promo into a real opportunity for buzz.