Hulu to redefine binge-watching with ads allowing you to order pizza while watching TV

 


NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 30: CEO of Hulu, Mike Hopkins attends Hulu’s Upfront Presentation on April 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Hulu)

You get home from work, plop down on the couch and turn on the TV. If you’re under 35, chances are you are watching some “TV” on your computer or mobile device.

It’s after five o’clock and you’re hungry. A pizza commercial comes on and a button appears allowing you to place an order, right there on the computer in the midst of a commercial break.

It’s what Hulu calls an “in-stream purchase unit,” or “interactive ad.”

The online, subscription-based TV and movie service plans to roll out the first interactive ad this year in partnership with Pizza Hut, and another ad this summer in partnership with Corona, the Mexican beer company.

As consumers have changed their watching habits, first by fast-forwarding through commercials with DVR, and then switching from TV to computers and mobile devices, companies have had to find new ways to reach consumers through advertising.

Currently you have to pay $7.99 a month for access to Hulu on mobile devices and internet-connected TV’s. To tap into the growing mobile market, Hulu plans to offer free content on mobile devices supported by advertising.

In January, the company announced it would stop developing Hulu’s desktop application and focus on video streaming instead.

Wednesday, at their annual Hulu Upfront event in New York, Hulu chief executive Mike Hopkins said the company is still working on licensing deals with TV networks to bring content to mobile devices without a paid subscription.

The company expects to make the additional mobile content available this summer along with an updated version of their iPhone app.

Hulu says people spend 50 minutes per session on Hulu on average when viewing from a desktop computer. Hulu is likely betting on consumers spending a lot more time in front of the screen, desktop or otherwise, once they order food and stick around to watch another episode while they eat it.

These ads will target specific audiences, so you probably won’t be seeing a Pizza Hut ad at 7 a.m. if you’re watching Hulu on the bus on the way to work.

Consumers will be able to place an order for pickup or delivery during the commercial and resume watching wherever they left off. The ads will appear across all platforms: desktop, mobile and internet-connected TV. The paid version of Hulu, Hulu Plus, has more than six million subscribers, according to the company.

“…the new ad type could be a game changer for the TV ad industry because it gives brands the opportunity to bypass “marketing” and go straight for the sale,” according to VentureBeat.

Gail Sullivan covers business for the Morning Mix blog.
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