Hulu‘s had a pretty quiet summer, seemingly sidelined while rivals like Netflix continue to announce original content to heavy fanfare and results. In July, the fate of the company was even uncertain, as its owners debated selling the site off entirely. Acting Chief Executive Andy Forssell, however, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, says Hulu is “kicking back into action,” starting with the addition of new BBC shows and a plan to grow original content by 10-15% in coming years.
Whether or not these moves come too late remains to be seen. The immediate news is that Hulu has struck an agreement with the BBC to bring shows such as “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood,” “Sherlock,” and “MI-5″ into its catalog. However, the deal isn’t an exclusive one, meaning the same shows will continue to be available on Netflix and Amazon Instant, making the content deal more of a catch-up effort than a feature. In addition, most of the episodes will be available only to Hulu Plus subscribers, rather than on the free-ad supported site.
Hulu has struggled recently against rivals Netflix and Amazon. Although it announced in April that it had passed 4 million paying subscribers, the vast majority of its user are still not paying. Netflix in comparison has around 30 million US customers, and 8 million international ones, all of whom are paying.
Can Hulu turn around and compete with Netflix? Did Hulu make a mistake with its business model in originally being entirely free?