Why Hulu is gaining more mobile users but in-app purchases are declining

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Hulu released the second season of "The Handmaid's Tale" during the second quarter. (Hulu)

Hulu is closing out what should be a big second quarter, one featuring the release of the second season of its cornerstone original, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But mobile results may vary.

According to Apptopia’s Adam Blacker, Hulu saw a 56% spike in monthly active users during the second quarter but the company’s in-app purchases dropped 12%. He offered two ideas for why it’s happening.

Blacker attributed the increase in mobile viewership to the much-marketed return of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And he said the general increase in mobile users could be due to the summer season and the increased travel that comes along with it, causing existing subscribers to watch less on their connected TVs and more on smartphones and tablets.

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“This means the increased active users are actually already paying subscribers. Apptopia estimates detected a similar summer surge (say that five times fast) for Hulu in 2017. Additionally, the app’s new installs are down -9.5% QOQ, leading to less opportunity for converting new users into paying subscribers,” Blacker wrote in a blog post.

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Apptopia also looked at MAU and mobile download growth for other major virtual MVPDs including DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, FuboTV and Sling TV—and the news was not good for Sling.


Sling TV was the only service in the bunch to see its MAU trend downward. Blacker attributed that drop to losing older customers and/or not transitioning new installs out of the free trial stage and into a paid subscription.

While DirecTV Now was able to modestly grow both its MAU and mobile downloads during the quarter, not all of its streaming TV eggs are in one basket. The company also has the newly introduced Watch TV app, which offers a skinny bundle of entertainment-focused channels for $15 per month. Apptopia estimated that Watch TV has amassed 40,000 downloads and created 21,000 daily active users since its launch.

This article was updated for clarification about in-app purchases.