Hulu plans to drop its Hulu Plus brand while picking up one of the biggest brands in entertainment, the company announced at its NewFront presentation in New York on Tuesday.
"Our condolences to the Plus in Hulu Plus," said Amy Poehler during the event, which was expected to attract 2,000 attendees. Ms. Poehler is producing an original comedy, "Difficult People," that will premiere on Hulu this summer.
Hulu Plus referred to the online video service's paid subscription tier that asks people to pay $7.99 a month to access more of Hulu's TV content with fewer ads. The brand's demise doesn't mean Hulu's paid subscription service is going away. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins said Hulu has more than 9 million subscribers, which is a 50% increase year-over-year. He described the rationale to drop the Hulu Plus brand as a need to erase confusion among people -- including Mr. Hopkins' mom -- trying to understand the difference between Hulu and Hulu Plus.
"2015 is the year Hulu will break out," Mr. Hopkins said.
To that end, Hulu announced a bevy of new original series and old TV shows that will be available to stream on its service as well as a deal with Cablevision to help boost its subscriber numbers.
After Netflix's "House of Cards" proved that online video services can produce hit original series, others have been looking for their breakout hit. Hulu appears to have potentially found one in "11/22/63," a drama based on Stephen King's novel about the JFK assassination that will be produced by "Star Wars" director J.J. Abrams and star James Franco.
Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman is helming a new Hulu original series called "Casual," which he described as "a comedy that explored family and dating and human sexuality in a human way."
Jason Katims, who produced "Friday Night Lights and Parenthood," has developed a new drama called "The Way" that, he said, tells "a story about a family in a moment of crisis set in a fascinating world of a fictional faith-based organization."
YouTube star Freddie Wong has created a meta series that looks to blend his company Rocket Jump's brand of over-the-top action clips with behind-the-scenes looks at how they're made.
Hulu's marquee content acquisition is "Seinfeld." The complete series will debut on Hulu in June, said Hulu's senior VP of content Craig Erwich, who added that "only Hulu will be streaming all nine seasons." Then Jerry Seinfeld took the stage and answered a few questions from the audience, like what would "Seinfeld" be like if it were made today.
Jerry Seinfeld says if Seinfeld was made today it'd be "annoying" https://t.co/zJbtQYVKcf— Tim Peterson (@petersontee) April 29, 2015
The company has also arranged a pact with AMC to become the exclusive streaming video-on-demand service for any future shows that AMC Studios produces for AMC Networks, such as the upcoming "Walking Dead" spin-off "Fear the Walking Dead."