Hulu may not be rolling out original series premieres at the same rate as Netflix, but the SVOD is spending as much as Amazon on development.
Beatrice Springborn, Hulu’s head of original programming, told the Hollywood Reporter that Hulu is close to Amazon in terms of content spending but still maintaining a “boutique” feel in terms of size, getting in a knock on Netflix for the size of its executive roster and daunting depth of its programming slate.
“We're absolutely spending on par with Amazon as far as development goes. We have a very boutique approach to talent,” Springborn told the publication. “We're eight executives—not 30. Honestly, I don't know what the number of execs are at Netflix at this point. We're accessible and still not premiering a show every week, so there's an opportunity to have an impact. And we clearly market our shows well.”
Matching Amazon’s content budget could be a daunting task. According to Business Insider, Netflix is still leading the way for SVODs (and most networks, save for ESPN) with a content budget projected to be around $6 billion this year. But Amazon is coming up fast with a content budget forecast to be around $4.5 billion this year.
After Amazon last year announced Prime Video was going global, some analysts began to anticipate that Amazon’s budget would expand even beyond Netflix’s.
Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald estimated that Amazon’s video content budget for 2016 was between $4 billion and $5 billion, but that the cost of international expansion to nearly 200 countries could drive that total up another $1 billion to $2 billion in 2017.
“That would bring Amazon's annual content expenditure in line with Netflix, which disclosed ~$6B content budget on P&L basis for 2017. Amazon management highlighted on the last earnings call that content was among the top three categories in which the company was, and planned to continue, investing. On the call, CFO Oslavsky said that ‘video content and marketing associated with that’ was nearly doubling Y/Y in 2H16,” Fitzgerald said in a research note.
While Springborn didn’t specifically spell out how much Hulu intends to spend on content, elsewhere in the interview she did offer updates on how some of Hulu’s original shows are performing. She said that “The Handmaid’s Tale” was the most-watched premiere (original or acquired) ever for Hulu.
Springborn also justified Hulu not releasing ratings, saying that the company is now starting to build up performance benchmarks for its original series.