Upfront Perspective: Hulu and Spectrum

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March 31, 2017

Upfront Perspective: Hulu and Spectrum


Post by Josh Martin, EVP

After attending the Hulu and Spectrum Upfront presentation this past week, the dynamic that stood out the most was the intersecting juxtaposition between the two companies. Historically, Hulu and Spectrum (formerly Time Warner and Charter) operated in very different ways. Hulu was the new entrant, a joint venture from Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Turner, launching as a top caliber streaming video service featuring content from TV, Movies, Music and Originals. In contrast, Spectrum – the recently merged entity of Time Warner and Charter – was the tried and true cable MSO.

During their Upfront presentations, it appeared that both of the companies were switching roles to a certain degree. Hulu, which held its Upfront on May 3, 2017 at Madison Square Garden Theater, focused on its evolution into live TV with the introduction of a low cost, skinny bundle of broadcast and cable networks. Hulu is taking on cable MSOs, satellite operators and new live TV streaming services (such as Sling, PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV). Its Upfront continued to feature multiple celebrities and discussions of new and renewed programs, but much of the emphasis was associated with its new live TV streaming services, coupled together with their strong SVOD programming. Hulu also highlighted several new advertising opportunities associated with new services (much related to addressable and interactive ads).

In contrast, the Spectrum upfront, which was held at the Edison Ballroom on May 5, 2017, highlighted new advanced targeting solutions associated with linear local cable offering. Spectrum leveraged its celebrity talent to report on and provide a detailed demo of its new user interface and technology that allows agencies to use advanced data streams to target network/dayparts/programs with the highest concentration of a desired audience. Spectrum focused on new programmatic TV buying techniques leveraging digital best practices.

The vision for both companies appear similar in that they are both looking to “redefine” TV, while driving growth of a premium subscription service. As was to be expected, both companies highlighted their programming with celebrity talent. What was unexpected was the juxtaposition of Hulu, a digitally focused advanced targeting streaming service, announcing it will be joining the live TV subscription world, while the “traditional” cable-based subscription offered through Spectrum touted new digital targeting practices that leverage unique data sets and infrastructure to better target ads to niche consumer segments.


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