Hulu said its total customer base is now made up of 26.8 million monthly paid subscribers, with 1.3 million promotional accounts, reaching a total of more than 28 million. The company had said in January that it had 25 million total subscribers.
Meanwhile, competitor Netflix said in April that it had reached 148.8 subscribers globally and 60.2 million subscribers domestically. Disney, which owns 60% of Hulu, will pull content from Netflix this year to stream on its own new service, Disney+, which launches in November.
The service is expected to become a key part of Disney’s streaming strategy. At an investors’ presentation last month, Disney said it would offer Hulu as a bundle if people subscribe to Disney+ and ESPN+. Last month reports came through that Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, was in talks with Disney to sell its 30% stake in Hulu.
Hulu’s new “binge advertising” experience comes as advertisers are increasingly seeking to reach customers in a way that doesn’t annoy them or disrupt their experience. This new format will “make it possible for marketers to target binge viewers with a creative that is situationally relevant to their viewing behavior,” the company said in a statement.
Peter Naylor, Hulu’s SVP and head of ad sales, said the platform will identify when someone is “binge viewing,” or watching at least three episodes of the same series, and will serve tailored messages to that viewing behavior. He said it could take the form of a message saying a viewer can watch the next episode for free, or a personalized offer from a brand.
On the screen at the presentation, the company showed a sample message from Starbucks: An ad for a S’mores Frappuccino with the words, “S’more of this. Watch the next episode for free. Brought to you by Starbucks.”
Hulu also offers “pause ads,” which are static advertisements that appear when a viewer pauses their content on Hulu. The company said it’s expanding the availability of those pause ads to all its advertisers beginning in August, following a beta test with Coca-Cola and Charmin.
Naylor also said the company is now capping every or ad break at 90 seconds. He said users will not see the same ad more than twice in an hour, and said no ad will run more than four times a day per viewer. This comes after some viewers have bemoaned the number of times they’ve seen certain ads on the platform.