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Hulu Improves to 41.6 Million Total Subscribers, Hulu Live TV Loses 200,000

Derek Walborn

Today, Disney reported that Hulu added 2.2 million subscribers for a total of 41.6 million in the second quarter of 2021. But a closer look at the numbers reveals that all of the growth came from the SVOD Hulu product (up 2.4 million) while Hulu Live TV lost 200,000 to leave them with 3.8 million.

It has been a bit of a nonstop rollercoaster ride for the company. Over the past two years, the market has become increasingly flooded with new competition such as discovery+, Apple TV+, and even a streaming titan from its own company: Disney+. During that time, Hulu's churn rate has doubled. The implication being that viewers drop in, stay a while, and then move on to greener pastures in search of better content.

This is contrary to Netflix’s churn rate, which is remarkably steady in spite of price increases and so many alternative options. If there is anything to be learned from this, it’s most likely that more must-see, original and exclusive content like Hulu’s “Handmaid's Tale” could be a make or break feature for the platform when it comes to securing a consistently loyal base of viewers.

Another factor may be the platform losing content as contracts expire and shows previously garnering viewership on Hulu find homes on services created by the companies that produce them. Discovery recently pulled TLC programming from Hulu, appropriately securing it on their proprietary discovery+ platform. Hulu subscribers who were fans of “90 Day Fiance” and “Say Yes to the Dress” now have to decide to either pay for both services or follow their favorite shows to Discovery’s walled garden and leave their Hulu subscription to lapse.

While some of Discovery's channels will remain on Hulu Live TV, thanks to a recent deal extending their stay, it’s safe to assume that this is only prolonging an inevitable migration process.

The news hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Hulu. They have recently announced that “How I Met Your Father,” a spinoff of the beloved sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” will be shipping directly to its streaming service.

This month will also see a slew of content landing on the platform, including entries from the “Resident Evil” and “007” film series, as well the first Marvel comedy show in the form of the Patton Oswalt-led “Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.

Starting only recently, Hulu Live TV subscribers cans live stream ViacomCBS channels such as BET, BET Her, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV Classic, MTV2, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Paramount Network, TeenNick, TV Land, and VH1. With the additions, Hulu Live TV now has 32 of the Top 35 cable channels.

Football fans also have reason to rejoice, as Hulu announced that NFL Network will be coming to Hulu Live TV by August 1st, as part of a new multi-year agreement. NFL RedZone will also be available on the service as part of an add-on.

Hulu’s churn rate makes sense considering the conflicting tone of developments surrounding the platform. It seems that for every misstep, there is an equally appealing addition or acquisition that keeps the platform chugging along in a different direction for a different audience. As the year continues to unfold, it will be interesting to see if Hulu can steady the ship and begin to cultivate the identity and fanbase it surely needs to prevent a slow drowning in a sea of fresh-faced and uniquely targeted competitors.

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