A new multiyear film licensing agreement between Hulu and six-year-old Annapurna Pictures is the largest one Hulu has entered into, ever.
It’s a time when some larger SVOD competitors like Netflix are doubling down on original content and TV programming, but Hulu’s choice to augment its base in motion pictures might point to consumer markets drifting toward certain types of content and delivery technologies. In the deal, Hulu will gain the pay-one window streaming rights to all of Annapurna’s films after their theatrical and VOD releases.
In addition to future movies, which Hulu will have the exclusive rights to stream, Annapurna’s cache of box office giants including "Zero Dark Thirty," "Her, " "American Hustle" and "Sausage Party" are all slated for Hulu’s streaming lineup.
"Annapurna Pictures has developed a well-known reputation of delivering standout, award winning films year after year," said Craig Erwich, SVP and Head of Content at Hulu, in a statement. "These are exactly the types of titles we look for to expand our film offering, and we are confident that our viewers will love watching their future slate of releases on Hulu."
The first of Annapurna’s new releases to appear on Hulu will be a film about the 1967 Detroit Riots, a violent civil disturbance that lasted for five days and revealed aspects of the city’s systemic racism, from American film director Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2009, for the film "The Hurt Locker."
This deal comes after several other agreements that Hulu entered into with motion picture companies. In January, Hulu announced a new pay-TV window deal with Magnolia Pictures, giving Hulu the pay one window streaming rights to Magnolia films after their theatrical runs. Also in January, Hulu struck a deal with its corporate co-parent, the Walt Disney Company, to offer Disney classics such as "The Nightmare Before Christmas," "Mulan," "Pocahontas" and "Hercules." In 2015, Hulu picked up premium cable channel Epix, indicating that this is a long-planned strategy to bolster film streaming content options.
Both the Magnolia and Epix deals went through with Hulu after Netflix dropped them.
A Strategy Analytics report released in January ranked Hulu second for overall customer satisfaction out of four SVOD services, comparing the company with Netflix, HBO Now and Amazon Prime Video. The report measured customer satisfaction based on each service’s number and availability of TV shows and films, how easy they are to find and the overall value of the service. HBO Now topped the lists in all categories except three: Availability of children’s programming went to Hulu, while content recommendations and the cost of the subscription went to Netflix.
Hulu ranked third, ahead of only Amazon, for its number of hit movies, suggesting that Hulu is increasing its efforts to offer more feature film-length video in response to customer demand.