Thanks to Shows Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu’s 2017 Ad Revenue Topped $1 Billion

The streaming service now has 17 million U.S. subscribers

The Handmaid's Tale was one of Hulu's three most-watched dramas in 2017. Hulu
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Hulu’s biggest year—as the company launched a live TV service and the critically-acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale—paid off for the streaming service as its 2017 advertising revenue topped $1 billion, for the first time in company history.

Additionally, the number of total U.S. Hulu subscribers is now 17 million, including both its subscription video on demand (SVOD) and live TV plans. That’s a 40 percent increase over the 12 million subscribers that the company reported in 2016, but still is less than one-third of Netflix’s U.S. subscriber base, which is approximately 52 million.

Hulu said its total audience now stands at 54 million unique viewers, which is up from the 47 million number it reported at last May’s NewFronts. At that time, Hulu said 68 percent of those viewers opt for ad-supported content.

That $1 billion in ad revenue came as the company launched its live TV streaming service in May, though Hulu will not be selling ads on that platform until this year. Around the same time, it released its most-critically acclaimed series ever, The Handmaid’s Tale. The series, starring Elisabeth Moss, went to the win the Emmy for outstanding drama series—the first time a streaming service ever won in that category. On Sunday, the series won two Golden Globes, for best drama series and best actress in a drama series, which went to Moss.

Hulu said its streaming TV library is now the largest in the U.S., with more than 75,000 episodes of TV and 1,700 titles, including shows like This Is Us, Lost, Atlanta, The Golden Girls, Full House and Futurama.

The median age of a Hulu viewer is 31, which the company said is almost 25 years younger than the average broadcast network viewer, 55.

As usual, the streaming service isn’t divulging ratings, but said that its top three dramas last year, based on total number of hours watched, were Law & Order: SVU, This Is Us and The Handmaid’s Tale. The top three comedies, also based on hours watched, were South Park, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers.

“2017 was a momentous year for Hulu. We took several major steps to become a 21st century direct-to-consumer media company, evolving into both an aggressive SVOD business and a formidable new live TV provider,” said new Hulu CEO Randy Freer—who replaced the departing Mike Hopkins in October—in a statement. “The year ahead is going to be even bigger, as the company invests more in content —live, library and original—as well as technology and data to make Hulu the leading pay TV choice for consumers.”


@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
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