Hulu has made some huge swings in the past year to keep pace with Netflix and Amazon, and now the streaming service has decided to set itself apart from its competitors in one major way. This fall, the service will release episodes of its original series on a weekly basis, instead of streaming the entire season at once and allowing viewers to binge-watch them.
"We want to give viewers the opportunity to discover their favorite shows every week," Craig Erwich, Hulu's svp and head of content, said on Sunday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "We value the shared experience and the joy of the watercooler that is television. This will also allow us to get the shows out to our audiences faster, without waiting until full series completion."
Erwich added that he hopes that airing just one new episode each week will give audiences—and TV critics—a chance to discover "and hopefully celebrate" these shows.
While Hulu had previously released most of its original series on a weekly basis, it also experimented with a binge-style release of certain shows, including comedies The Hotwives of Orlando and Deadbeat.
Hulu's decision comes as Amazon, which started out two years ago releasing episodes weekly, has permanently switched over to the binge model. Amazon Studios director Roy Price told Adweek last week his audiences are too used to binging an entire season for Amazon to go back to a weekly model. But, he adds, "I do worry a little—there is something about a show that comes out every week that provides a certain pleasurable anticipation of the next episode."
For those Hulu viewers who would prefer to binge-watch the whole season, after their weekly rollout, "all episodes will be available at once, for many years to come, as part of our collection," said Erwich.
Hulu used its TCA day to tout its fall slate: the Amy Poehler-produced comedy Difficult People, starring Billy Eichner; The Hotwives of Las Vegas, its Hotwives of Orlando follow-up (beginning Aug. 18); The Mindy Project, which is coming to Hulu after three years on Fox (Sept. 15); new comedy Casual, executive produced by Jason Reitman (Oct. 7) and RocketJump: The Show, which goes behind the scenes with Freddie Wong and his RocketJump team as they make their newest digital shorts.
Erwich also discussed Hulu's recent "big and bold bets in programming," including deals to land subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) rights to Empire and Seinfeld, an extension of its SVOD South Park deal, and agreements with AMC, FX and Turner. It also partnered with Showtime to sell the premium network's new streaming service at a discount for Hulu subscribers.
When Hulu started seven years ago, the service could only be viewed on a PC. Now, 60 percent of Hulu customers watch it via a television set, through a service like Apple TV or Xbox, said Erwich.
Hulu's big summer event to date was the SVOD release of all nine seasons of Seinfeld. In the first few days following the June 24 bow, "thousands" of viewers streamed all 180 episodes in a row. "These people are truly masters of their streaming domain," said Erwich.