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Watch the First Episode

Hulu Adds Unscripted Series 'The Fashion Fund,' Accelerating Original Content Effort

Follows Announcement of Faux-Reality 'Battleground'

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Hulu is moving quickly into original programming, announcing its second series in less than a week.

The streaming video service revealed on its blog Thursday a six-part reality series called the "The Fashion Fund," which follows 10 fashion designers vying to win the annual competition from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue. One designer will win $300,000 to kick-start his or her career and a mentorship with a fashion bigwig.

The first 23-minute episode of "The Fashion Fund" was made available on Hulu last night, with new episodes scheduled to become available every Thursday through Feb. 29.

Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour appears in the first episode. The project is independent of Conde Nast's corporate effort to develop original TV, film and digital-video content under TV veteran Dawn Ostroff, named last fall to the new post of president at Conde Nast Entertainment.

"The Fashion Fund" follows Hulu's announcement last week that it is developing an original series called "Battleground," a mockumentary following the campaign of a fictional Wisconsin senator and his staff. The series, created by Marc Webb and J.D. Walsh, will premiere on Feb. 14.

Original programming has become a cornerstone to the strategies of internet-video providers as they continue to push into cable's domain.

Netflix has been making more-expensive bets on original content, with its first series, the hourlong "Lilyhammer" scheduled to be released Feb. 6. Unlike Hulu's approach to "The Fashion Fund," Netflix won't parcel out episodes weekly in traditional TV style. Instead it will make all eight episodes in the first season available at once in a bid to get subscribers to "binge" on the show and become addicted in one fell swoop, as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings explained this week.

Netflix, which released better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as it recovered 600,000 subscribers, is also working on the Kevin Spacey original series "House of Cards" and a revival of cult-classic comedy "Arrested Development."

But Netflix doesn't intend to actively market its original series as a lure for new subscribers, a spokesman told Ad Age . Rather, the company is relying on its "personalization" capabilities to bring the content to existing subscribers based on their preferences, hoping that it helps keep them happy with its streaming offerings.

"We don't market individual titles," the spokesman said. "The brand is Netflix, and we market the brand. It isn't about one particular title."

YouTube also recently launched an entire catalog of original programming and higher-polish channels, backed by $100 million in development money that it hopes to recoup from its channel partners. Beyond the big video services, Yahoo this spring will introduce a scripted, animated series called "Electric City" and starring Tom Hanks.

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