Hulu's deal to stream and sell ads in "Larry King Now," an interview series from the new digital video network Ora TV, may open new avenues for fledgling online content producers.
"We were intrigued by the vision of Ora apart from Larry's involvement," said Andy Forssell, senior VP-content at Hulu. "They consider themselves a network and think like a network. Ora looks at us as a platform for distribution and monetization. I love this model. Ora is the first one to really do this and I think others will follow."
"Larry King Now" is the first series from Ora TV, which is backed by billionaire investor Carlos Slim, and the first venture for Mr. King since he parted ways with CNN in February. New episodes of the half-hour show will be available on Hulu and Ora TV's website Mondays through Thursdays. The deal calling for about 100 hours of content.
The series joins a Hulu lineup comprised of TV series from broadcast and cable networks and a few original shows, such as "Battleground," that Hulu has acquired. Ora TV executives hopes "Larry King Now" will be just the first show of many from the aspiring network to also run on Hulu.
Ora CEO Jon Housman, former president of digital journalism initiatives at News Corp., said partnering with Hulu from the start made strategic sense.
"Knowing Hulu, I am comfortable with the way they treat high-level content," he said. "They know how to display content and attract viewers. They also monetize well with high-quality ad units and advertisers."
Instead of waiting until Ora TV was up and running before forming partnerships, Mr. Housman said Hulu provides an opportunity to market the brand. "Hulu can allow us to make a connection to viewers we may not be able to attract on our own."
The partnership also gives Ora TV a better connection with advertisers than an upstart web video network could have on its own. "Hulu's model of having more limited quantity of high-quality advertisers and inventory is a model we want to align with," Mr. Housman said.
While Hulu typically sells by demographic and type of show, it is making an exception with "Larry King Now." The sales team is selling the show directly to potential advertisers because Mr. King is so well-known and appealing to major consumer brands, Mr. Forssell said, pitching custom partnerships and sponsorships.
"We are fascinated with Larry and impressed with him wanting to do something new," Mr. Forssell said. "He wanted to do something he is good at but in a new way to attract a younger audience. His show centers around people; he pulls an amazing breadth of guests that can reach any demo. He is not looking to attract the same demo he went after on CNN."