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Why Amazon and Netflix Should Be Afraid of Hulu

For a long time regarded as the underdog of the video streaming business, Hulu might well be on its way to become a serious threat to the competition.

Number 3 in the race, Hulu is currently holding a pretty good seat but has continuously been struggling in the past to step up its game, facing difficulty to sign juicy deals with big studios, as opposed to the front runners Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, who’ve famously spared no expense. But after Sunday night’s 69th Emmy Awards ceremony, and following recent significant news, circumstances seem to not-so-surprinsingly be turning in Hulu’s favor…

To start, with 7 fresh Emmy wins (among 13 nominations) under the belt for its most popular original show, The Handmaid’s Tale, including Outstanding Drama Series, Lead Actress (Elisabeth Moss), Writing (Bruce Miller), and Director (Reed Morano), the platform is on the verge of ending 2017 with a bang and a symbolic middle finger to its mighty rivals.

More importantly, in other game-changing news, previous to Hulu’s big night at the Emmys, the company’s CEO, Mike Hopkins, announced earlier this month, during an event at the Paley Centre for Media in New York, that the streaming service will spend $2.5 billion for its content this year. The move, Hopkins specified, will finance the launch of 7 new original series in the next 6 to 9 months.

Compared to the $6 billion and $4.5 billion respectively spent by Netflix and Amazon in 2017, Hulu’s funding might seem pretty low, but if there’s one thing the past year should have taught streaming companies after Netflix’s recent frustrating round of cancelations, it’s that more money makes no difference if quality is ultimately overlooked. And by primarily betting on its best program, based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu already proved it has the patience and wisdom to invest smartly.

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale

Another key aspect of the equation is that Hulu’s service is, for the time being, only available in the United States, unlike Netflix’s presence in 190 countries and Amazon’s in more than 200 territories since the end of 2016. (And not countries, like some have written in the past. Reality check: the world only counts 195 nations).

Most interestingly, Hulu’s subscription figures went from 12 million to 32 million in the space of only 1 year, a continuously growing user base that demonstrates the rapidly increasing American households’ interest for the platform. Therefore it would only be fair to say that with its recent award victory and upcoming new original programs, the service could be on its way to catch up with Netflix’s 103.96 millions subscribers (worldwide) and Amazon’s 80 million (US only) – even more so if it decided to expand its service internationally.

And, as success attracts better deals, Hulu could also see more big television groups switch sides to join the platform’s partners, which already include CBS, A+E Networks, Scripps Network Interactive and its parents 21st Century Fox, Disney, NBC Universal and Time Warner.

Whether it is smarter or simply really in luck, Hulu seems to be making the right choice not to follow in the footsteps of its competitors by remaining reasonable. Although it is yet to be seen if it will manage to use its recent triumph to its advantage, the streaming service definitely appears to be on the right track.

Update – September 20, 2017: Hulu just closed a deal with NBC to be the first to stream the popular sitcom Will & Grace‘s 8 seasons and the show’s new, highly anticipated episodes the day after their broadcast premiere.