Hulu to launch first original scripted series

"Battleground," a political comedy about a Senate primary campaign, will debut on the video-streaming service next month.

Hulu is beefing up its effort to be an Internet video destination to challenge Netflix with plans to produce its first scripted series next month.

The video-steaming service has ordered 13 episodes of "Battleground," a political comedy about a primary campaign for a Wisconsin Senate seat, that will debut on February 14, Hulu announced today. Hulu will follow that up with 10 new episodes of "A Day in the Life," a documentary series about famous people that returns in March, and a six-part travelogue from Richard Linklater, director of "Dazed and Confused, the company said in a statement.

All three shows will be available to users of Hulu's free service and Hulu Plus, its premium subscription service, the company said.

Hulu, which Hulu's recently announced that its revenue rose 60 percent last year , is also considering its options for raising more capital, Andy Forssell, chief content officer, told Bloomberg in an interview.

"We have a very healthy business," Forssell said. "When you have a healthy business, capital is not a problem. There are plenty of people who want to help."

The new programming follows the announcement earlier this month that Netflix would soon launch its first original series , a crime drama called "Lilyhammer" starring Steven Van Zandt as a mafia boss who moves to Norway as part of a witness protection program.

It's also a substantive sign that Hulu's owners--Walt Disney, News Corp., Comcast, and equity firm Providence Equity Partners--might be serious about keeping the online video service. Talk of Hulu possibly being acquired began last summer when Yahoo reportedly approached the company and offered to pay up to $2 billion to acquire Hulu. A host of other suitors, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Dish, all reportedly kicked the tires on the service before its owners decided to take it off the auction block in October.

Complicating things for Hulu was the fact that Hulu's owners haven't always been the most willing to share content on the Web. Fox Network announced last July that it would begin delaying Web access to many of its popular TV shows to give cable and satellite TV providers greater exclusivity with programming.

 

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