While other services scramble to emulate Netflix’s game-changing full season releases of new original content (and their programming budget), Hulu appears to be going in a slightly different direction.
The service has announced that all of their original programming for 2015 will be put on a limited release schedule that will see just one episode premiere every week.
“We want to give viewers the opportunity to discover their favorite shows every week,” Hulu’s Head of Content Craig Erwich said when he announced the move at last week Television Critics Association summer tour.
Hulu’s reboot of cancelled television show The Mindy Project and FreddieW’s Rocketjump: The Show will find their episodes held in Hulu’s content jail while they throttle the release schedule. Difficult People, The Show, The Hotwives Of Las Vegas, Casual, and The Awesomes will also be released on a weekly schedule.
So, why exactly is Hulu punishing binge-watchers? Erwich explained: “We value the shared experience and the joy of the water cooler that is television. This will also allow us to get the shows out to our audiences faster, without waiting until full series completion.
“And don’t forget, with an on-demand service like Hulu, once a series airs all episodes will be available at once for many years to come as part of our collection.”
When it comes to binge-watching, some viewers watch an entire season at once while others limit themselves to just a few episodes a day/week. But the whole point of releasing an entire season at once is to give more choice to the consumer, and limiting those choices can never be a good thing; no matter how much companies try to spin their decisions.
88% of Netflix users and 70% of Hulu Plus users report streaming three or more episodes of the same TV show in one day, according to Nielsen. So it sounds like Hulu is ignoring what the majority of their consumers want in favor of other interests. Namely, their ad market.
With prime-time CPMs in excess of $100, Hulu maintains some of the highest CPMs for premium in-stream (pre/mid-roll) ads in the industry. As of the end of 2013 their average CPM was $27.50, according to ReelSEO. However, if a large number of their users flock to the service too quickly, they won’t be able to serve as many premium ads as they would if they spread that demand out over time. As it stands, their business model literally doesn’t allow for them to give their users what they want.
Unless, of course, what you want is all 180 episodes of Seinfeld. They may not be able to offer what 70% of their customers want, but at least they have Seinfeld.