Hulu is focusing on its own original programming with “The Awesomes,” the video service’s first animated series and first original show this year. This marks a change of direction for the company, which was until recently entertaining bids for acquisition. Its emphasis on original programming reflects its new intention to compete with services such as Netflix and Amazon. Hulu will also join with sponsors to make new, brand integrated shows in order to generate advertising revenue.
“The owners of Hulu — 21st Century Fox, the Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal — provided a reprieve,” reports The New York Times. “Instead of selling Hulu, they said it would invest $750 million in the site and increase competition with Netflix, which has had tremendous success with its slate of original programming, including a handful of Emmy nominations Thursday.”
The show is the story of a team of second rate superheroes called “The Awesomes” who band together after the original “Awesomes” heroes separated. It was co-created by Seth Meyers, along with Michael Shoemaker, who was involved with “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
“The Awesomes” will be sponsored by Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, with a brand partnership that will integrate the product into the series. It will also include extended episodes with characters from the show and the beef jerky mascot, Sasquatch.
Characters will make references to Jack Link’s, but acknowledge that they are a paid advertisement. Meyers believes that this brand partnership is necessary.
“I’m a realist and you have to pay for these shows,” said Meyers. “It’s how this stuff works. I think it’s been helpful for me to work in TV for 12 years. No one’s paying to watch ‘Saturday Night Live’ but I still get a check every week.”
Hulu’s revenue is generated by both subscriptions and advertising, unlike Netflix, which is subscription only. And subscription fees and advertising revenue from its paid service, Hulu Plus, account for more than half of the company’s revenue, according to Andy Forssell, acting chief executive and senior VP of content at Hulu.
A full marketing campaign, including digital banner advertising for “The Awesomes,” will be featured on Hulu and Hulu Plus programming, as well as other sites such as BuzzFeed, Pandora, the Onion, Yahoo and others. Free episodes will be available to Xbox Live users, and billboards will be on display in New York and Los Angeles.