Recently, the online video subscription service, Hulu Plus, announced that it ended 2011 with a whopping 1.5 million subscriptions. Specifically, what is it that the Hulu Plus brand is doing right? More importantly, why is Hulu Plus in route to supplant Netflix?
Let’s take a look at Hulu.
Hulu offers current content.
Sure, Netflix has a substantial collection of television series that have been or are still in syndication, or it simply has past seasons. Not current ones. But it doesn’t deliver the current content that Hulu does. For example, perhaps you are a Parks and Recreation fan. With Hulu Plus, you can view the latest episode the day after it aired on national television because Hulu is a joint venture of NBC, Fox and ABC. With Netflix, you must wait for the current season to finish and be released on Blu-Ray and DVD before it can be granted release to Netflix. That’s a long wait. Too long in a digital world where we want immediate gratification. For the networks, Hulu represents a way to, in essence, skip the middle man (Netflix).
Hulu is partnered with major networks ABC, FOX and NBC.
Be a part of “The Big Three” enables subscribers of Hulu Plus to have that aforementioned immediacy. What’s more, Hulu has Comedy Central and PBS on its side among a plethora of other major and independent networks that keep viewers satiated.
Hulu has sponsors, which means better content is underway. While the advertisements on Hulu are somewhat annoying (isn’t it odd that two commercials every 15 minutes can drive us bonkers?), what’s good about them is that Hulu has built up a stockpile of revenue (a half-billion dollars, in fact) to remain financially stable. This will only aid Hulu in adding new and significant content to the site. This is a huge advantage for Hulu Plus.
Hulu offers a free version of its site.
This is non-existent with Netflix. While Hulu’s free site is minimal and lacks the breadth of shows that the Plus site boasts, there is at least the chance to explore content. This allows users to connect with the service and build preference before committing to the slim $7.95 a month asking price for Hulu plus (which is one dollar less than Netflix). Doesn’t the Hulu brand seem a little smarter to viewers? We think so.
Hulu understands its brand and hasn’t upset its users as Netflix has.
We’ve heard this repeatedly in the news, but many Netflix users have become jaded or worse with many completely withdrawing their memberships. Netflix almost committed branding suicide. How? By attempting to divide into two services (a way to make more company profit), it only made its faithful mad and feel used.
Ultimately, a successful brand is brand that recognizes its own worth. It is also one that embraces its commercial role and identity. Most importantly, it values its loyal customers. If history is any indicator, Netflix has failed significantly with all of these critical attributes. Conversely, Hulu has embraced these attributes full-heartedly.
The difference? One company is on the verge of full bloom while the other is slowly withering away.