Thinking of new and creative ways to turn a profit, Hulu has tapped a third-party distributor to sell its original shows abroad. Going forward, FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) will get “first look” privileges at any programming potentially fit for international audiences.
“We now have the opportunity to extend [our] reach,” said Andy Forssell, Hulu’s senior vice president of content.
Following HBO and Netflix, Hulu broke into original programming just this past January. Soon after, the online TV service owned by ABC, NBC and Fox released its first scripted show, “Battleground,” a drama with comedic moments set in the world of political campaigns.
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.
Not wasting any time, FME said it plans to distribute “A Day in the Life” worldwide.
“This is a groundbreaking deal, which sets a new precedent for acquiring content that can live on both digital and linear platforms,” said David Ellender, Global CEO of FME.
Original content is seen as a way to compliment Hulu’s ad-supported model. While Hulu Plus exceeded the company’s expectations in 2011 -- reaching a reported 1.5 million paying subscribers -- ad revenue was lower than estimated during the second half of the year.
Overall in 2011, Hulu said its business grew by 60% year-over-year, and raked in $420 million in revenue.
News of Hulu’s first scripted series came 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.