Hulu has announced the upcoming launch of an original, scripted series, “Battleground,” for streaming online, joining other online players like Google’s YouTube, Yahoo, and Netflix in the direct-to-web, original programming game.
“Battlefield,” a timely series about a fictional political campaign, debuts on Hulu on February 14th. Although first developed, then dropped, by Fox, “Battlefield” will bypass airing on traditional TV altogether. Hulu is picking up two original unscripted series for online streaming, as well,”A Day in the Life” and “Up to Speed.”
According to Andy Forssell, Sr. VP of Content at Hulu …
“We’ve long asked the question, how come the creativity and vibrancy that exists in the indie film world doesn’t exist in TV?” … He said Hulu executives concluded that the reason was television’s structural barriers, including the mandate that shows immediately produce sizable ratings. “For us, we don’t need a show to take off in the first, second or third episode,” Forssell said.” (LA Times, 15 January 2012)
One wonders, why is Hulu, not to mention the other online players, getting into original programming now? And, how are they doing it? According to Andrew Wallenstein in Variety,
“… having an original scripted series that hasn’t been seen anywhere else yet is considered the best tool for standing out with either advertisers or viewers. That said, it’s unlikely the cost of “Battleground” is on par with the low seven-figure bill most half-hours ring up on TV. While Forssell–who declined to specify its cost–said Hulu has no limits in place on what it would pay for programming, he added, “we’d like to keep costs as low as possible.” Part of the way that’s done is for Hulu to strike deals with producers that have terms that are hard to come by in the TV business, such as not taking ownership of the program. Forssell would not comment on deal specifics for the new programming.” Variety (15 January 2012)
Whatever Hulu’s deal structure for producers may be, it’s clear that the company is planning to continue to invest in programming,
“(In 2011) Hulu revenues increased 60% year over year to $420 million while its sub base reached 1.5 million. In a blog post announcing his company’s results, CEO Jason Kilar pledged to spend $500 million on content in 2012.” Variety (15 January 2012)
This can only be good news for filmmakers everywhere.