A The Awesomes Community
Tuesday 3:00 AM on Hulu

Earlier this month, Hulu debuted the sophomore seasons of two of its original series, The Awesomes (an animated comedy about a ragtag band of superheroes, created by Seth Meyers) and Quick Draw (an oddball hybrid of a Western and improv comedy, from John Lehr and Nancy Hower). Maybe you've heard of them—we checked in on both shows last season—but unless you're a diehard fan of either, it's possible that you didn't know they'd returned, or that they even scored renewals in the first place. 

That's not a knock on either show, or Hulu as a whole; The Awesomes is fun and has even gotten better in Season 2, and Quick Draw has its moments. Between those two series and the satirical The Hotwives of Orlando, the Tyler Labine-starring Deadbeat, and the teen drama East Los High, Hulu has built a nice little stable of originals to accompany its slew of foreign imports (MisfitsMoone Boy, etc.) and most of the latest episodes from the big networks here in the United States. Perhaps more importantly, as of a few months ago, the company's premium Hulu Plus service netted its six millionth subscriber, a figure that doesn't include the surely millions of people who visit Original Recipe Hulu without coughing up the cash to hop over the paywall. Despite some of the uncertainty over a possible sale or potential leadership that the company has faced over the last couple of years, things are going pretty good over there. 

Nevertheless, this is no longer a world where Netflix stands alone, pumping millions of dollars into original series development to make House of Cards or revive Arrested Development. Amazon made a big push with its second round of publicly released pilots, which yielded the lovely TransparentYahoo Screen went all in by saving Community, and something called Crackle keeps earning mentions as if it's trying to convince me that it's a real thing and not a cereal; at the very least, it's the home of Jerry Seinfeld's noteworthy web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The competition for streaming-platform supremacy is more intense than ever, and right now, Hulu seems content to produce solid and cost-effective shows that aren't out-and-out terrible but also don't inspire rabid fandom or widespread industry acclaim. (If you're really into Deadbeat or something and think I'm totally wrong, please let me know in the comments.) 

While decent original programming is something, it's certainly not enough to keep Hulu in the game with all these other players. There's an argument to be made that being THE destination for catching up on recently aired episode is one heck of a business strategy, especially since Hulu already has a framework for ad revenue in place, but as is the case with "real" TV, original programming is where it's at in 2014. So, for a moment, let's assume that Hulu wants to expand its footing in the originals game. What can it do? Here are some pretty obvious—but important—suggestions.



1. Spend more money

Hey man, you have to spend it to make it, ya know? Hulu's original offerings don't look exactly like web series, but they sure don't have the production values of, say, Orange Is The New Black. While The Hotwives of Orlando manages to get away with that due to its "reality show riff" conceit, stuff like Quick Draw and Deadbeat could use a little help in the looks department. It's especially noticeable thanks to the fact that Hulu's originals appear right alongside more expensive series from broadcast and cable, which only further delegitimizes them. Not every show needs to feature Game of Thrones-level location shooting and set dressings, but Hulu pulled in over $1 billion in ad revenue in 2013. There has to some stuck in a couch somewhere, right? And it's not just for the show budgets either...



2. Find a way to attract bigger names

Netflix got to where it is today by throwing lots of money at Media Rights Capital for House of Cards, knowing that the David Fincher, Kevin Spacey, and Robin Wright trio would raise viewer interest, and it didn't stop there. Arrested Development had a built-in fanbase and most of its cast members had raised their profiles since the show ended on Fox; Orange Is The New Black creator Jenji Kohan had just come off a long-running show in Weeds; and the company sold Hemlock Grove on whatever brand awareness and value Eli Roth's name still has. Meanwhile, after a somewhat bumpy first go-round, Amazon learned the value of familiarity as well: Its second pilot season offered more shows with more recognizable, respected names (Chris Carter, Jill Soloway, Titus Welliver, and more) and what do you know, the pilots were better received. 

There's absolutely no guarantee that paying some famous people to make a show is going to work. After all, lots of star-studded network shows fail. But it's a historically strong strategy, especially for up-and-coming content providers. Big names bring in press attention, which ultimately helps you make better programming. Hulu has done a nice job of trotting Meyers and his creative partner Mike Shoemaker to major events to promote The Awesomes and the company seems willing to trust the visions of smart people like Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider (Hotwives), so it's clearly not blind to the importance of hiring talented people and letting them do their thing. Now it should go one step further by trying to build a show around a big-enough star whose presence will make both viewers and the industry take notice (I'd say that said star could work behind or in front of the camera, but the latter would definitely make more of a difference). It's no longer a weird decision for an actor to join a Netflix show, and Amazon is hustling to make sure the same holds true for itself—as evidenced by its just-released third wave of potential new series featuring the likes of Ron Perlman, Chloë Sevigny, Mena Suvari, and more. Bigger and better names generally bring more critical attention and awards buzz, and eventually more ad revenue.



3. Develop a more dramatic show

Look, I'm not here to tell you that dramas are "better" or even more prestigious than comedies because that's a dumb arguments. Unfortunately, recent history tells us that people really sit up and pay attention to networks/content providers when they take a big swing with a drama series. It's the most blatant move to make if you're looking to signal to viewers and industry folk that you expect to be taken "seriously." But in Hulu's case, it's a move that makes even more sense: The company has tried comedies for long enough, and while some of them are fine and even good, they don't appear to be registering on a larger level. Comedy can be cheaper—though not necessarily easier—to produce, but you run the risk of it coming off like mid-level "web" content. Those sorts of connotations aren't helpful if you're trying to improve your standing in an increasingly competitive arena.

Transitioning into more dramatic territory would then perhaps not only bring Hulu more attention, it would also emphasize that Hulu is ready to do something different to draw in new eyeballs or talent. The company has shown a great eye in purchasing more dramatic content from all around the world, even in shows that aren't wholly comedic or dramatic—The Wrong Mans and Rev. immediately come to mind. It wouldn't be so difficult to take a similar approach with a fully original show. There's no need to make some great white male anti-hero drama in an attempt to compete with HBO, but there's also no reason why Hulu couldn't host something like Soloway's Transparent


More money, bigger names, and maybe some dramatic programming? That's a fairly well-tested recipe for success. It's also not a super innovative strategy, which is why, even though Hulu is already doing pretty well as is, it's interesting that the company isn't following it yet. Industry veteran Craig Erwich was hired in the spring to try to beef up Hulu's original programming slate, but the fact that the company is jointly owned by three major media conglomerates can't make it easy to seamlessly develop and execute a plan. Maybe Hulu will always be stuck with the scrap programs that its parent companies don't want elsewhere in their various networks. Or maybe it would prefer to keep buying other people's content and billing itself as the premiere content library for recent programming. But if Hulu wants to expand its footprint, this is the way to do it.  And if the company were to pivot in this direction just a little, and not give up on comedy and licensing and everything else in the process, it could become something really, really valuable. 

I want to hear from you folks, though. A couple of questions: 1.) If you can watch shows on Hulu, do you watch the originals? And 2.) Do you think of Hulu as a platform for original programming in the first place? 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 11/3/2015

Season 3 : Episode 10

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Well the video on demand channels are in huge popularity these days, and netflix expansion to Australia and other countries is a clear sign that the traffic for netflix movies and dramas are not just coming from US but from Middle East, Europe and Australia, although one can not access US netflix with out us ip so people are using vpn and smartdns to Unblock websites and have complete internet freedom and full entertainment, Hulu is also growing way too fast for its vast collection of Movies and TV series, yet they have to go more towards the expansions like Netflix is going, have Hulu in some Asian country, European country, for expats and local travelers to enjoy uninterrupted entertainment and gain more customers!
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stop being nothing more than a paid, ad riddled dvr.

My dvr is free and I can FF through adds. I can use VOD for free but it has commercials. Why would I want to pay for Hulu AND!!! watch commercials?
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"because that's a dumb arguments."

Sometimes I wonder if anyone proof reads articles on here
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Hulu is the last place I go to watch anything because they have no original content. I would deal with the ads if there was something worth watching but I would rather just keep the DVR recording the shows I want to watch so I could just FF the commercials but if Hulu got into some original Drama content I would gladly pay the few dollars to watch them. They should start by resurrecting some of the popular canceled sci-fi shows of recent years since they have a loyal following and they could even make it their niche with science fiction since there aren't many of them other than the SYFY channel. They need to do something because everyone I speak to have been complaining about hulu not keeping up with netflix and amazon in this regard. They have plenty of cash flow but like you said it is probably something to do with the diversity of management in the business already. One idea would be to pay Fox for the show Hieroglyph that was made but canceled before even airing.
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"The Awesomes is fun and has even gotten better in Season 2"

Eh, I haven't been hugely impressed with it this year. I suppose that depends on what you want from it. Season 2 has more on Prock, more on Prock's love life, has played up Perfect Man a bit more (can't stand the character, myself), introduced Malocchio's son as an ineffectual mama's boy while downplaying Impresario the superhero mama's boy, and relegated the characters to second-bananas to Prock's trials and tribulations.

Not so much on superhero parodies and superheroics in general.
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Recently watched "Sequested" made by Crackle and it is well worth the time.
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I have Hulu Plus and I don't think of them as an outlet for original programming. I usually just watch them to catch up on episodes of shows that i missed since I don't have a DVR.
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GET RID OF THE ADS FOR PAID SUBSCRIBERS!!!!!!!!!!!
Hulu is always my last point of call and only for an episode of a show I have missed or a series I can't get anywhere else because of the ads. Hate, hate, hate them and they don't influence what I choose to buy anyway!
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I don't use Hulu at all anymore, they have an offensive amount of ads even for a free service, and it shocks me to hear they have ads for their paid customers as well.

Considering the outlet is owned by several network companies, I don't think I can expect to see quality original programming come from them because those networks don't agree on anything, so whatever they put on it is likely to be pushed through a fine mesh of intercorporate monkeying.
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That is a good point about the network bureaucracy. Plus, I can't see why any would want original programming, particularly anything major with big named stars, to compete with their own individual current and upcoming originals on the networks themselves let alone Hulu.

On the other hand, I don't think it would prevent each network from developing their own unique content to offer without another network partner putting up a fuss, as they can do the same. Are the shows airing now, like The Awesomes, independent or are they connected/developed/financed by some agreement with a particular partner network? For instance, does Seth Meyers have a development deal of some kind with NBC to get The Awesomes produced, or is it a solo endeavor of some kind?
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The Awesomes is brought to you by Broadway Video, which is Lorne Michaels company and hasn't produced a TV project without an NBC employee (nearly all of which are SNL alums) in 8 years, and that was rare even then. Mulaney is their newest, from John Mulaney who used to write under Seth Meyers on SNL. Nearly everything they produce is aired on NBC as well, though Mulaney obviously bucks that trend. Broadway Video is very tied to NBC, who is a major and early stakeholder in Hulu.
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4. Tone the amount of commercials Hulu+ members get blitzed with. Always makes you wonder what you are paying for, if as described above, their shows dont have the same prestige/quality as Netflix for the same price.
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They need to cut back on the Commercials for those who pay to watch their shows. I have Hulu Plus and Netflix. I am forced to watch ton's of commercials even though I pay them $7.99 a month. I am forced to watch no commercials with Netflix and I pay them $8.99 a month. If I had to choose between the two, I would choose Netflix. They might be slow about putting new shows up for streaming but at least I can watch an entire season uninterrupted by commercials!
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First thing's first, make the damn Hulu app consistently work. I can't even begin to count the times "f***ing Hulu" has been uttered in my house. Half the time on my PS3, the app just won't work with the blu-ray controller. Other times, it freezes the whole system. It's slightly better on my PS4, but still not consistent. It works pretty well on my iPad, but I'm paying for the service. I shouldn't have to wonder if it's going to work or not.

They also need variety in the commercials they show. As much as I hate commercials, it drives me crazy when they show the same two or three every commercial break.
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At least if they're the same commercials you know how long you have to leave the room for a bathroom break. lol
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Spend more money

Ever go to their blog, ShareTV? Hammered out with rock and chisel by programmers from the Paleolithic Era. AWful - no edit button, no delete button, no...........

Oooops, never mind. But go see it, it makes this place look like the AV Club.

Oh, and if you ever want to see anything worthwhile, the wankers try to ransom the show so you pay to join Hulu Plus, or something like that. They can KMA.
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Crackle are shit but they made CH:OS:EN and it's totally badass. Google it. Watch it.
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Unfortunately they've increased ad frequency since the service began, it's noticeably more now. It's bad enough that I pay now, but the ads are still there and there are MORE than back when it was new and free.

Also their ad-break detection is weird. The other day I watched Manhattan and it insert 3-4 breaks 2 minutes apart in the first quarter. Seriously: 2 minutes, commercials, 2 minutes, commercials. I guess Manhattan's scene-change-volume triggered it or whatever.

Lastly, I don't know if this is still a thing, but it USED to be annoying that their license-agreements would allow some shows to work on devices A-C and others C-D. Meaning depending on the show you had to move from room to room to watch on the TV/PC/etc.
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Here's some advice: Make the Hulu channel on Roku actually work! I paid for a month of Hulu so I could catch up on some shows, but I ended up disabling renewal early and even putting my upgrade on hold because every time I tried to watch something, the Hulu channel froze. I told it to pause - half an hour later, it finally did. Then it unpaused, then paused again. I told it to get out of the show I was watching so I could watch something else - the whole Roku box froze and had to be rebooted. It's more painful to watch anything on Hulu than it is enjoyable. If the channel worked, I wouldn't have a problem paying the monthly fee to use Hulu Plus and watch it through Roku. But as long as it's this painful, I'll stick to waiting a week for the new episodes, because it's just ridiculous. (If this has changed at all, please do tell me - I'll subscribe again).
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I have a Roku 3 and Hulu works great on it. When I had the Roku 2 it was always freezing. Of course it could also have been my internet speed at the time.
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I've only ever tried it on a Roku 2, but I have a Roku 3 now - I'll give that a shot. Thanks!
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Netflix seems popular because people are using Roku and other smart devices to access it. If Hulu can't make their service work on these devices then they're dead.
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"and something called Crackle keeps earning mentions as if it's trying to convince me that it's a real thing and not a cereal; at the very least, it's the home of Jerry Seinfeld's noteworthy web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

I like Crackle's Chosen. It's edge-of-your-seat thrilling, surprising, and has cool action. The 10-minutes episodes/short seasons format definitely is a plus for this show.
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I watch most of their originals although I usually wait for them to finish airing all of the episodes instead of viewing week-to-week. I don't really think of Hulu as a platform for original programming though and it is more of a random pleasant surprise when I come across a show that I didn't know about.

It's not the same as Netflix where I look forward to the release date of some of their originals but that might also be because Hulu doesn't release all of the episodes at once.

I'm a cord cutter so I really don't have any major issues with Hulu Plus since it is a pretty great value especially if you use Bing rewards which works out to about $4/month.

I would like to see them try out some kind of premium tier where you could pay more per month and it would possibly unlock shows that you normally have to sign-in with a cable provider log in to watch. Right now those are kind of deceptive since they show up on the site as if they are available but when you try to watch them you end up finding out you can't. I know that is a current complaint of a lot of users because it just causes confusion.

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If Hulu introduces a completely ad free streaming option, I'll be interested. But until then, I'm sticking with Netflix, Amazon Prime and my cable company.
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This, this , a thousand times this. They are competing against companies that are producing original content and are doing so without ads. I hear people argue that you pay for cable and still have ads, but that is such a flawed argument because the biggest perk of Hulu Plus is that it can be used on the go.

If I'm on my lunch break and have the option of watching two episodes of something on Netflix or one episode of something on Hulu Plus because of the commercials, I'm going to choose Netflix everytime and eventually since I'm not using Hulu Plus I'm going to stop giving them money.
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They need to seriously stop commercial repetition. In my opinion, it has now crossed over into actual harassment. One show I watch has a coffee commercial at every break and sometimes twice in the same break for every episode now going on two weeks. And I pay for Hulu Plus mainly to get the British stuff. They should be forced to have one commercial per product or service per half hour show. No more than twice for an hour show, etc. Period. They even add their own commercial breaks to a show to run more commercials. I get commercials make them money to provide the content they do, and any original programming plans, but it should never come at the expense of Plus subscribers, let alone everyone's enjoyment of that content, by airing them over and over and over and over in one program.

I would like them to also bring back their own forum for people to discuss a show, or episodes of a show, like they once had. Even if it's for Plus member access only, it would be something better than nothing. The community was pretty rich and often helpful. Hulu decided to screw everyone over and nuke the community to get in bed with Facebook for mostly pointless commentary from its users, of which I am not and never will be. That was a sad day - still is.

They seem to have done away with their help, technical, and general discussion forums too.

They also need to stop this crap where networks like ABC Family won't let you watch their shows, regardless of being a Plus member, unless you have a cable provider identity and they do not even have your cable company as an option to sign into. Comcast is a Hulu partner, but you can't sign in if a Comcast subscriber! Why? Probably because Comcast has Xfinity. For some programs, not all, if you sign into Xfinity, it connects you to Hulu anyway. Anyone have similar experiences with their cable company like Time Warner, which also is not associated with Hulu? Does Time warner have their own online streaming service?

Until they fix these issues, I could care less about them adding original content or them competing with Netflix. I do not think they are currently worthy of being more than what they are now.
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Yes the repition is the worst! Try watching a show that has all episodes in marathon form and you see the same 2 or 3 commercials over a hundred times each during the course of the day. Are they trying to burn it into your brain?
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Thank you for confirming that Ad repition still happens. That was one of the biggest reasons why I would never become a Hulu Plus subscriber. Its bad enough that they have commercial breaks, but the lack of variety is a true crime.
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I watched another show not too long ago where they showed you can have commercial diversity. Just about every break had a new commercial. One product had two different commercials. There were only two products that had repeated commercials, but they aired about three times total. It was surprising and even, to some degree, refreshing. The show I watch with the coffee commercial was the complete opposite of that and it boggles my mind why they do it. I also wonder if there is a favorites or biased attitude among the networks. The varied commercials appeared on an NBC (Comcast) show while the nauseating repeats appear on an ABC (Disney) show.
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One they start offering content I deem worthy of my money, I'll get myself a subscription...so far, they don't even have anything I deem torrent-worthy.

Once they achieve that threshhold, Their account department & I may have something to tangible to discuss in the future
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I would say The Wrong Mans is definitely torrent worthy. And if you like Tyler Labine, Deadbeat is pretty much worth torrenting as well. But yeah, beyond those, your bandwidth is really better spent elsewhere.
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Yeah, I snagged The Wrong Mans & loved it...too bad the branding was so weak I didn't even realize it was Hulu...their loss, but it was still a great show...& I'm a sucker for X-Reaper cast members, so Deadbeat might be right up my alley (Hey Hulu: whatcha gon offer me to buy that off your shiz list?) Remember though, it's still a buyers market :P
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I subscribed to Hulu specifically so that I could have access to a legal way to view Castle with my brother, who has never seen it. I signed up, logged in, scrolled to Castle... They only have season 6.

I immediately unsubscribed.

If they want to succeed as a content provider service, they really need to have all of the content of the shows they claim to have.
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I'll watch shows on Hulu, once they have a service that gets rid of ads, I don't pay to watch additional ads, so for now I'll stick to Amazon and Netflix
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Exactly! If you pay for it, you shouldn't have commercials like it is for other channels. (Where is the money going?) Or at the very least have that option again where you can view all the commercials in the beginning of the program so you can watch your episodes uninterrupted. There should be something better for the paying customers.
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