Big digital video platform Hulu pulled in slightly more new subscribers than Netflix in the first quarter of this year -- though it is still far behind the subscription VOD leader.
Hulu added 3 million more U.S. subscribers since January -- now totaling 20 million subscribers, from all its digital media packages, ad-supported and non-ad supported.
This figure is less than half of Netflix’s 55 million U.S. subscribers. Netflix said it has added 2 million in the first quarter of this year.
This news of Hulu's increase in subscribers came during its NewFront presentation on Wednesday.
As part of its announcement, Hulu says its ad load is less than half that of linear TV. When marketers run a schedule on Hulu, 50% of the audience has not seen the ads on traditional TV.
At the same time, Hulu said it would be ramping up ad revenue for its Hulu with Live TV platform -- a package of live, linear TV networks -- which it started in 2017 as a 50-channel, $39.99-a-month service. This would come in TV commercial adjacencies Hulu gets to sell on those networks. Estimates are the Hulu with Live TV has around 500,000 subscribers.
In addition, Hulu will offer viewers -- for the first time -- downloadable movies and TV shows with TV commercials.
Standard Media Index estimates Hulu’s advertising revenue in the first quarter has grown 18% to $300 million versus a year ago. In January, Hulu said it pulled in $1 billion in advertising for all of 2017.
Netflix has no ad-supported subscriber packages/services. For years, its senior executives have been adamant that this is not a business they want to pursue.