Hulu Invests In Original Shows

Hungry to beat Netflix at its own game, Hulu is getting into original programming, and might raise money to support the cause.

The online TV service owned by ABC, NBC and Fox, said Sunday that its plans to release its first scripted show, “Battleground,” on Feb. 14, and is weighing options to raise cash this year, Andy Forssell, chief content officer of the company, tells Bloomberg.

Hulu also ordered 10 new episodes of Morgan Spurlock’s “A Day in the Life,” a documentary series that returns in March, and a six-part documentary from Richard Linklater, director of “The School of Rock” and “Before Sunset,” called “Up to Speed,” that starts later this year.

This is the start of a growing trend towards original Web programming,” writes TechCrunch. News of Hulu’s first scripted series comes on the heels of Netflix’s preparations to launch its first original series -- a “fish out of water” tale from Steven Van Zandt called Lilyhammer -- it notes.

Notes VentureBeat: “The site’s exclusive new offering is part of a $500 million new content promise Hulu CEO Jason Kilar made to viewers earlier in the week -- and a chess-like response to Netflix.”

“As a matter of fact, original content could play a key role in boosting the ad-supported site of Hulu’s business,” The Next Web suggests. “While Hulu Plus exceeded the company’s expectations in 2011, competing with Netflix and reaching 1.5 million paying subscribers, advertising revenues were lower than expected during the second half of the year.” 

Hulu also plans a second season for Morgan Spurlock's "A Day in the Life," a series that debuted last year, The Los Angeles Times notes. “In its first season, the show followed such luminaries as music producer and Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am and British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.”

Still, as Reuters writes: “The challenge for Hulu is to ensure it can generate a return on investment in expensive content like scripted drama, which is typically more costly than producing a documentary or reality show.”

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