Hulu is launching a big advertising blitz to grow subscribers for its crucial push into live TV
- With several sports leagues resuming play, Hulu is reviving "Hulu Sellouts," an ad campaign that uses athletes to promote its live-television service that includes live sports.
- The campaign's new 30-second ad that debuts today stars athletes like the NBA's Damian Lillard trying their hand at popular quarantine hobbies like baking bread before proclaiming that live sports are back.
- Hulu is banking on pent-up demand for live sports to differentiate itself from streaming-video rivals.
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People may not be watching live sports from packed bleacher stands anytime soon, but Hulu wants them to know that they can still catch games on its platform.
With play resuming across several sports leagues including the MLB, NBA, WNBA, and NHL, the streaming service is reviving "Hulu Sellouts," an ad campaign that uses athletes to promote its live-television service that includes live sports.
The campaign's new 30-second ad that debuts on August 13 stars the NBA's Damian Lillard, MLB's Aaron Judge, WNBA's Skylar Diggins and NHL's Sidney Crosby trying popular quarantine hobbies like baking bread and painting before proclaiming that live sports are back. It will air across national TV and social media.
"We've observed a lot of pent-up demand and interest, so this our celebration of the return of sports," said Ryan Crosby, VP of marketing at Hulu. "The creative pokes fun at the idea that we can now put away the time-fillers that we'd found while sports was off-air."
Hulu's live-TV service, which includes access to its on-demand library of shows and movies, has been a big focus for the company, which it sees as a way to differentiate itself from rivals like NBCUniversal's Peacock, Disney+ and WarnerMedia's HBO Max joining the already crowded space, but also take on other live-TV streaming services like Sling TV and YouTube TV.
It also brings in more subscription revenue. A Hulu Live TV subscription typically costs $54.99 a month with ads and $60.99 without ads versus $5.99 and $11.99 for just on-demand content. Hulu, which only operates in the US, has 35.5 million subscribers, of which 3.4 million are Live TV subscribers. By comparison, Netflix and Disney+ have 139 million and 60.5 million each worldwide.
Sports in particular is a lucrative bet for the company and a big driver of Live TV, with engagement around sporting events and signups increasing at key times in the sports cycle, according to Crosby. Since the Sellouts campaign first launched in February 2019, Hulu and Live TV subscribers have doubled, with a 139% year-over-year growth in the number of hours watched when it came to the NFL, for example, he said.
Last summer, Hulu said that 65% of live-sports viewers go on to watch Hulu's library of on-demand content. That's important because the company keeps all the ad revenue from its on-demand viewing but only 15% from ads that run during its live service.
Like other brands, Hulu faced production hurdles putting the ad together during the pandemic, with social distancing rules and many sports teams in the midst of their seasons. The company used body doubles to perform each athlete's movements in the spot, ultimately superimposing the athletes' expressions onto their body doubles post-production through the VFX technique digital face replacement technology with the help of VFX company Tribbo, said Crosby.
Watch the spot below:
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