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Hulu Not Looking to Expand Globally — For Now

5 Oct, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

SVOD service to announce ‘big’ content license agreement Oct. 6

On the eve of a major content license agreement, Hulu has no plans to expand operations outside the United States in the short term, CEO Mike Hopkins told attendees Oct. 5 at the annual Mipcom confab in Cannes, France.

“We’re evaluating the markets. We don’t have plans at the moment to expand internationally, but it’s clearly a growing market,” Hopkins said.

Hulu, which has about 10 million Hulu Plus subscribers and is co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast, last year sold Hulu Japan to media conglomerate Nippon TV. Upon its launch in 2011, Hulu Japan was a first-of-its-kind subscription streaming service in the Asian market.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Hulu continues to license content and infrastructure to the Japanese service. And with a mandate from Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch to position Hulu Plus as a legitimate competitor to Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, expanding overseas will eventually happen.

“If you look at adoption and broadband penetrations around the world, it’s compelling and something we will take a look at,” Hopkins said.

Separately, Hulu, which has spent lavishly securing exclusive streaming rights to “Seinfeld” (a first for the venerable sitcom) and “South Park,” among others, is searching for its own original hit. The service has quietly kept pace with Netflix and Amazon launching original programming, including Jason Reitman comedy “Casual,” which debuts Oct. 7.

Hopkins, in a nod to fireside co-presenter Jim Packer, president of worldwide television and digital distribution at Lionsgate, said TV programs such as “Mad Men” (which Lionsgate created, along with Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”) and “The Sopranos” changed the fortunes for AMC Networks and Comedy Central, respectively.

“We’re looking for that defining show,” Hopkins said, adding that a “couple of shows” won’t help a SVOD service stand out. The CEO said Hulu Plus, which recently acquired streaming rights to “Empire” and “Last Man on Earth” from Fox, would continue to acquire rights to engaging programming in order to provide subs with a “diverse set of offerings.”

Indeed, a “big” content license announcement is set for Oct. 6.

“I wish it [the deal] was done and we could announce it here today,” Hopkins said.

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