Hulu Is Gaining On Netflix, But 'Star Trek Discovery' Is An Unstoppable Monster
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Jason Isaacs, Sonequa Martin-Green and Shazad Latif attend the 'Star Trek: Discovery' photocall at Millbank Tower on November 5, 2017, in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
A couple of stories have grabbed my attention recently. Firstly, there’s the news - via Observer.com - that Hulu has had an amazing 12 months and now claims around 17 million subscribers. That’s nearly 42% growth since May 2016.
It’s not all rosy for Hulu because Netflix boasts a more global reach. Outside the US Hulu doesn’t really operate, which is part of the reason that Netflix claims 109 million worldwide customers. In the US Netflix is more than twice as big as Hulu with nearly 53 million customers.
Things get confusing when you factor in Amazon though, which has 80 million Prime subscribers. It’s not as easy to tell how many of these are using the video service, but Amazon makes nearly twice as much money on the “Prime” offering as Netflix did last year ($6.4bn vs $3.29bn). Amazon also spent $4.5bn on productions last year - less than Netflix’s annual spend of $8bn.
What’s interested me though is the Star Trek: Discovery “Demand Expressions” or, better known as the number of people talking about a show. According to Parrot Analytics - video below - Star Trek: Discovery has more than 53 million people talking about it in the US. That beats The Walking Dead which has around 46m expressions. Netflix’s Stranger Things also has a staggering 33m of these within the US.
Traditional TV is doing well, with shows like Shameless and Game of Thrones creating more hype than almost any “digital original” or show that comes from a purely online service but not one of them seems to be more discussed than Star Trek. That could, in part, be because Star Trek is the only show currently airing new episodes. Even so, impressive hype for a brand new show.
All of this should be good news for CBS All Access, but the company isn’t releasing numbers of subscribers for its streaming service. Star Trek: Discovery also airs on Netflix outside the US where it mops up a considerable number of Trek enthusiasts. It’s shows like this that I think will help boost Netflix in the long term. They might not be quite as profitable, as they’re owned by other distributors, but they have an instant reach that Netflix own shows can’t quite match.
Time will tell if the impending launch of Disney’s own streaming service and the related loss of its content from Netflix will have a long-term impact on the company. With Star Wars, Disney movies and TV shows leaving the service this year Netflix will have a gap to fill.
Update: Parrot Analytics got in touch to explain more about Demand Expressions. All sorts of interest are tracked, it told me, including legal and illegal streams as well as conversations on social media. Parrot’s methodology can be seen on its site.