Hulu unveiled big plans Wednesday morning at its New York City upfront, including a brand new AMC Networks deal that grants the streaming company exclusive rights to the forthcoming "Walking Dead" spinoff, "Fear the Walking Dead."
The company also confirmed prior media reports that "Seinfeld" will be coming to the service in June. Jerry Seinfeld was on hand for the announcement, which closed the show.
"If you take away one thing from this morning, know that 2015 is the year Hulu will break out," Hopkins promised ad buyers and press upfront at the upfront.
The AMC deal will secure the licensing rights for new and upcoming AMC, IFC, BBC America, SundanceTV and WE tv series, as well as a number of movies from the IFC Films collection. Series from those AMC Networks will be available on Hulu prior to each subsequent season's network premiere.
"AMC Networks has an incredible reputation and track record in producing captivating storytelling across a variety of genres for true connoisseurs of television," CEO Mike Hopkins (pictured above) said of the new deal. "This huge partnership guarantees that Hulu viewers will soon be able to enjoy the newest slate of premium programming from some of the top cable networks."
"We believe in the combination of compelling content and technology to engage audiences and deliver viewers back to the linear television experience," added Ed Carroll, chief operating officer, AMC Networks. "AMC Networks has been the original home of some of the most popular shows in the history of online streaming, and we are excited about this new partnership with Hulu, a growing company that has created a network-branded environment for content in a highly competitive space."
Before the big announcements, however, it was time for some stats, courtesy of company executives. Hulu's nine million subscribers have grown 50 percent in the past year, the company boasted. Across Q1, streams are up 77 percent; hours are up 83 percent. All told, that means the average Hulu subscriber is watching 30 percent more on the platform.
Plus, 83 percent of Hulu's consumers come from TV's key 18-49 demographic; the median user age is 33. That likely appeased media buyers in attendance.
Then there was other business news: Hulu will be available on Cablevision/Optimum and other platforms this year, Hopkins informed the industry. His company is also dropping the "Plus" from Hulu Plus, he said -- it'll be just plain-old Hulu going forward.
Hulu also teased new product Hulu Insights, which is meant to drill down further into who is watching the company's programming -- a means to further target and measure ad reach.
Here is Hulu's slate of coming originals, in the company's own words:
- Premiere date: 2016
- Cast: James Franco, Daniel Webber, Sarah Gadon, Chris Cooper, Cherry Jones, George MacKay, Lucy Fry, Leon Rippy and Brooklyn Sudano
- Crew: Executive Produced by J.J. Abrams, Stephen King, Bridget Carpenter and Bryan Burk
- Synopsis: Nine-hour limited event series based upon the best-selling 2011 novel written by Stephen King. 11/22/63 is a thriller in which high school history teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy -- but his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, his falling in love and the past itself ... which doesn't want to be changed.
- Premiere date: Summer 2015
- Cast: Julie Klausner, Billy Eichner, Andrea Martin, James Urbaniak, Gabourey Sidibe, Cole Escola
- Crew: Executive Produced by Amy Poehler and Dave Becky. Created by Julie Klausner
- Synopsis: Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner star as best friends living in New York City. Their typical, irreverent behavior lands them in some very awkward situations.
- Premiere date: 2015
- Cast: Tommy Dewey, Michaela Watkins
- Crew: Executive Producer / Director Jason Reitman, Writer / Creator Zander Lehmann, Producer Helen Estabrook
- Synopsis: Casual follows the story of a dysfunctional family with a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating (on-line and off), while living under one roof again and raising a teenager.
- Premiere date: Winter 2015
- Cast: TBD
- Crew: Executive Producer Jason Katims, Creator / Writer Jessica Goldberg, Producer Michelle Lee
- Synopsis: The 10-episode drama series examines a family at the center of a controversial faith-based movement struggling with relationships, marriage and power. Each hour-long episode will take an in-depth look at what it means to choose between the life we live and the life we want.
"RocketJump: The Show"
- Premiere date: Fall 2015
- Cast: Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team
- Crew: Created / Produced / Written by Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team
- Synopsis: Each half-hour episode of the comedy series will chronicle the filmmaking behind RocketJump's newest short. The eight full episodes will be released on Hulu on a weekly basis and the newly-created shorts will premiere on Hulu.