Hulu Is on Track to Lose $1.5 Billion in 2018

That would be a 71 percent increase in losses from a year ago

Popcorn bags with the Hulu logo at a premiere event
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Hulu is on pace to lose more than $1.5 billion in 2018, as it continues to plow money into adding content and grabbing new subscribers.

That projection comes after a recent SEC filing from Comcast — which owns a 30 percent stake in the streaming service — showed Hulu lost $353.3 million during the second quarter of 2018. Coupled with the $436 million Hulu lost in Q1, the company is set to see its yearly loss increase 71 percent from the $920 million it lost in 2017.

Falling in the red isn’t completely in vain, however, as Hulu has seen progress on several fronts. The service’s trademark show, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” recently scored 20 of Hulu’s 27 total Emmy nominations. And its subscriber base is growing, with 20 million customers in the U.S. paying at least $7.99 a month. Hulu’s live TV service, launched last year, runs $39.99 a month and has about 800,000 subscribers.

But the mounting losses only serve as a reminder of how expensive it is to come in third place behind its rivals, Netflix and Amazon. Hulu spent $2.5 billion on content in 2017 and is on pace to lap that this year. Netflix, meanwhile, is projected to spend up to $13 billion in 2018 on programing, according to The Economist’s estimates. Amazon will spend $5 billion this year on content, according to analysis from JP Morgan.

And while Netflix operates at a loss, too, it’s grabbing more viewers, with nearly three times as many subscribers in the U.S. as Hulu. Losing money is more palatable to investors when you’re racking up new customers.

With Disney set to double its 30 percent stake in Hulu following its acquisition of Fox, Hulu may receive a shot in the arm. (WarnerMedia controls the remaining 10 percent.) CEO Bob Iger said last December Disney will continue to invest in Hulu shows, and said earlier this week on the company’s earnings call he sees Hulu as part of a three-pronged streaming play from the Mouse House, along with Disney’s upcoming service and ESPN+.