Hulu and Hulu Plus

6 Things Hulu Should Do To Catch Netflix

By  | 

Many people view Hulu and Hulu Plus as the DVR to their cord-cutting ways, while Netflix serves as the streaming giant, more like another cable TV channel. What are some things Hulu should do to catch Netflix?

Both of them serve thousands of movies and TV shows, but they are very different from each other. Netflix is a deep library of season after season of TV shows, as well as a rotating list of available movies.

Hulu Plus, on the other hand, is network TV’s answer to the cord-cutting phenomena.

Basically, ABC, NBC and Fox got together to share recent episodes of their TV shows on one source, reaching millennials and mobile device viewers more than they ever had before.

But it’s safe to say that most people look to Netflix first when they decide to sign up for a streaming service, mostly because of its depth and variety. And Hulu Plus is a distant second – or possibly third place, after Amazon Prime – for online TV viewing.

6 Things Hulu Should Do To Catch Netflix

So how can Hulu beat Netflix? Or at least, what things can Hulu do to close the gap on the streaming giant?

1. Get Serious About Original Content

Hulu has begun to take major steps into doing original programming, which Netflix paved the way for back when they first started getting serious about original content with “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” But they’re still a service people go to as their replacement for a Cable TV box, as opposed to a service you buy along with Cable TV, like Netflix.

Granted, this is by design, since ABC, NBC and Fox really don’t want people to abandon Cable TV, considering all of their partner channels, like The CW, Comedy Central, USA and the Disney channels.

But if they get serious about original content, they can turn Hulu into another channel, as a complement to their TV networks, as opposed to just an alternative.

2. Buy TV Rights to More Stephen King Books

When Hulu ended up as the winners in the J.J. Abrams-produced 11.22.63, an eight-part series based on King’s novel about a time traveler trying to stop the assassination of JFK, they put the entertainment world on notice: Hulu is ready to take a dent in Netflix’s market share of streaming customers.

King has a pretty large catalog of books and short stories, and Hulu would do well to lock as many down as possible.

For instance, David E. Kelley is writing the TV adaptation for “Mr. Mercedes,” a detective novel that’s first in a series of three books King will have finished soon (“Finders Keepers” was released last year as the second novel of the series).

There are dozens of other great King stories that have either been made into movies already, but deserve a deeper look on the small screen (like “Needful Things”), or there are stories that haven’t been told yet on any screen (like “The Talisman”).

Much like “Fargo” for FX, Hulu could do one different King story in an eight- or 10-part series every year.

Things Hulu Should Do -- 11.22.63

Hulu premiered Stephen King’s “11.22.63” on President’s Day, Feb. 15, 2015.

3. Keep Releasing Shows Week By Week

If someone’s a huge fan of King, or of any other production Hulu gets involved in, they’re going to sign up for the streaming service, much like many did for “11.22.63.”

Unlike Netflix, though, Hulu is only releasing episodes of their newest show once per week (every Monday). Netflix usually dumps all of their content out at once, allowing viewers to binge on the entire show all at once.

If Hulu did this, people would possibly cancel their Hulu subscription a couple days after signing up for it (once they’ve binged on the new show).

Smartly, we’re forced to wait week after week for the coming episode, which network TV was essentially built on 50 years ago.

In the current state of our binge-watch nation, this is upsetting to many. But really, it’s great for storytelling, because those cliffhangers at the end of each episode keep us excited for the coming week. Plus, we’ll have a whole week of water-cooler chatter to help our anticipation grow.

4. Pick Up Failed Series and Revive Them

Last year, Hulu picked up “The Mindy Project,” which had a small-but-devout following on the Fox Network for three seasons. While “Mindy” didn’t light the world on fire on Hulu, it was still a smart move for the network trio (ABC/Fox/NBC) to move some viewers over to Hulu at little expense. It knew that show would bring over a certain number of viewers it might not have normally attained.

So rather than cancel series that are starting to drag a bit on whichever network currently showing them, why not move it over to Hulu for at least one season, and possibly more.

A couple shows that might work on a Hulu transition include “Sleepy Hollow” and “Grimm.” Both appeal to a younger audience that likely already streams content, and they both appeal to a specific supernatural niche.

Grimm - Things Hulu Should Do To Catch Netflix

“Grimm” is skating on thin ratings ice, so a move to Hulu next season is a smart idea.

5. Do More Behind-the-Scenes Videos

Remember that something Hulu has that Netflix doesn’t is direct access to network TV show productions – as they are happening. So showing plenty of behind-the-scenes videos, whether it’s bloopers, deleted scenes or even interviews with the creators and cast, Hulu would be adding much-needed value to their catalogue of content that can’t be had Netflix.

For instance, Hulu posted a two-minute video that showed all of the Easter eggs in the four ABC sitcoms that aired on April 1, “Hidden April Fools’ Jokes Revealed in ABC Comedies.”

Networks could even help out with short story arcs about some of their secondary and tertiary characters. I’d watch a 10-minute clip of anything involving Charlie on “Blackish” or the JTP (Jenkintown Posse) on “The Goldbergs.”

Production costs might increase a bit, but now it adds value to each sitcom, and network, as well as Hulu.

6. Continue Locking Down Classic TV Shows

In recent years, Hulu has bought the streaming rights to classic TV shows like “Seinfeld” and “South Park,” which is a huge step in building this streaming service out into more than just “day-after” viewing for current shows.

Obviously, making big deals for this content will cost them a lot of money, but wouldn’t networks be smart to put money into successful old content like “Dr. Who,” “The Office,” “The Honeymooners,” “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philaldephia”?

Not that the major networks have really proven to be smart executives in the first place. But still …

There are plenty of things Hulu should do to catch Netflix, but they have to leverage their television networks connections. Let that networking with the networks finally pay off! Then the networks win with more advertising revenue, Hulu wins with more viewers, and viewers win with more streaming content to enjoy whenever they want.