Live Nation and Hulu Pursue Original Programs, VR Content

Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s largest concert promoter, entertains 70 million people who attend its live musical events annually, selling many of the tickets via Ticketmaster, which it owns. Now, the company is leveraging its access to headlining musicians to create videos and virtual reality content featuring them. It hired MTV vet Heather Parry to build the TV/film production studio and announced co-production plans with Hulu, Vice Media, and VR company NextVR. The end goal is to generate more advertising revenue.

With regard to making the most of its access to musical acts, Bloomberg quotes chief executive Michael Rapino as saying that the company has, “been on a quest to take those two hours-plus and start bringing those to life online, on TV, and any screen we can monetize.”

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The first TV show, “Earth Works,” will be produced with Viceland and feature musicians travelling to “imperiled ecosystems” to “highlight certain threats through song.” “Earth Works” will license its material to Hulu, as well as produce VR long-form live concerts with NextVR.

Last year, Live Nation’s most profitable unit was advertising and sponsorship, with sales of $333 million, so expanding that division to sell ads for the videos is a “natural next step.” Live Nation has a leg up with its recent acquisition of Greenlight Media, which specializes in producing branded content for advertisers. Live Nation and Greenlight are “already trading ideas” for brand integrations at festivals, says Greenlight co-founder Dominic Sandifer.

Live Nation also purchased InDMusic, which specializes in “boosting viewership of videos on YouTube and other online portals.”

Hulu’s partnership with Live Nation will focus on creating backstage VR content, for Hulu’s virtual reality app for the Samsung Gear VR headset, says Bloomberg. Hulu is also launching its new documentary unit with “Eight Days a Week,” about the Beatles, from director Ron Howard.

Hulu’s goal, in producing more original programming, is “a bid to catch up with larger rival Netflix.” That includes its first original movie, and the recent release of two drama series “11/22/63” and “The Path.” Hulu has ordered a new season of “The Mindy Project,” starring Mindy Kaling, and an election special featuring Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

In 2017, Hulu may launch a package of live streaming TV channels, and is already in discussions with all four U.S. broadcast networks. CBS chief executive Les Moonves says that his company is “not a partner in Hulu, nor do we want to be,” but “if they offer us the right pricing for our subs, we will absolutely consider it.” Hulu is due to surpass 12 million subscribers this month, which represents a 33 percent increase in the past year.