Hulu Still Searching for That Signature Hit

Buzz lacking for The Awesomes, but Mother Up is perking up, per NetBase

Now that Hulu isn't getting sold and its broadcast-net parents are pledging to invest $750 million in the video site, the talk is that Hulu will focus on its subscription business and competing with buzzy Netflix as well as programming newbie Amazon. And that means investing in shows—original shows that will make paying for Hulu Plus compelling (especially if Hulu loses some of the exclusive TV rights it has enjoyed).

The challenge is that, to date, Hulu's never had a signature hit, or anything close to generating the Emmy chatter of a House of Cards or Netflix's newest buzz vehicle Orange Is the New Black. (To be fair, who does?) It's just not known for its own content.

Hulu's always seemed to treat originals as a side project. To many, Hulu has always been the place to watch SNL clips (which it's partially losing to Yahoo) and catching up on the last few Family Guys. The closest Hulu has come to a breakout has been culty imports like The Misfits or The Booth at the End, which reached a second season. Hulu never makes its viewership numbers public, but it's hard to recall last year's campaign-themed Battleground becoming the talk of the 2012 election.

So this year's—and more likely, next year's—slate of Hulu originals are critical. So far, the Web chatter there has been centered on the sale that never happened. Per social analytics firm NetBase, since June, Hulu has yielded 115,078 mentions in social media, 64 percent of which were positive. In fact, the firm found that the positive mentions were focused on users favoring Hulu over Netflix.

As for originals, the Eva Longoria animated project Mother Up, which debuts this fall, has generated 4,815 total mentions, per NetBase. The British series Moone Bay, which received a rave review in The New York Times, spurred 1,380 total mentions. Meanwhile, The Awesomes, which Hulu is promoting at Comic-Con, has hardly registered, according to NetBase's data.

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