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TV and Movies

Hulu tops 25 million subscribers, but still trails Netflix by miles

Hulu says it does have more video customers than the US' biggest cable providers. And that includes Comcast, one of its owners.

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Hulu has been adding subscribers but remains much smaller than rival Netflix.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

Hulu surpassed 25 million total subscribers across all products in 2018, the company said Tuesday, an increase of 8 million from a year earlier.

Like all other subscription streaming video services, Hulu is still far behind global leader Netflix, which had 137 million members worldwide at the end of September. But Hulu noted its milestone means it has more video customers than even the biggest cable and satellite TV companies in the US, which includes Comcast. The cable giant, which incidentally is one of Hulu's parents, had 21 million residential TV customers at the end of September. 

(Awkward... )

Although smaller than NetflixHulu was one of the vanguards of streaming television. As Netflix has secured its dominance, Hulu has grappled with a crowd of rivals to be one of the other services most consumers sign up for. That competition is set to only grow. Traditional Hollywood giants like DisneyTime Warner and others plan to launch their own versions of Netflix this year.

In its end-of-year recap, Hulu said it's the only service of its kind that has full seasons of 80 percent of the shows nominated for Emmys last year. And people are binge-watching there, too. For Hulu's top 100 shows, more than half of all viewing sessions were for three or more episodes of the same series.

Among other stats, Hulu said average time spent per subscriber each month increased 20 percent last year, and it said viewers who subscribe to both its on-demand service and its live-TV offering spend half of their time watching that on-demand or recorded programming. Hulu said it leaned in to that behavior by investing "significantly" in exclusive programming and improving its streaming technology. It reduced buffering by 90 percent, it said. 

Its advertising revenue hit a new high of $1.5 billion in 2018, up more than 45 percent. The median age of a Hulu viewer is 32, and the average annual household income was $93,000.

Correction, 12:11 p.m. PT: This story initially misstated the year that Hulu's advertising revenue hit a new high. It was in 2018. 

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