Hulu is releasing the test version of a new feature that let’s viewers connect while watching shows together online.
It is called Watch Party. It is the first release by a major streaming video provider of a technology that other companies are also working on in response to COVID19.
Why it’s Hot:
Though its development was propelled by the pandemic, this is a technology that may continue to find an audience after COVID is over, subtly changing the landscape of our social interactions.
Hulu recently announced an update to its mobile VR app for the Gear VR and its desktop app for the Oculus Rift, both of which will enhance the experience of viewing Hulu-branded content in VR through layered social dimensions.
Slip on a headset and join your friends as avatars composed solely of a floating head and hands, where you can share an Oculus Room and watch movies together. You’ll further be able to play with objects like a TV remote around the virtual space thanks to the inclusion of the Oculus Touch, though lack of avatar customization and the limited use cases for hands help center the attention around Hulu’s media.
Though social in VR is a hot topic, establishing a sense of community within an experience is difficult for a number of reasons – for one thing, most Hulu viewers don’t own a headset. Among those that do, not all of them actually use the platform on their Gear VR or Oculus. Moreover, the physical act of donning a headset is quite isolating; Hulu will have to mold the experience around tech-savvy friend circles who are comfortable sharing experiences digitally despite being distant in the material world.
Why It’s Hot:
Social VR is a category to keep an eye on. Brands are trying to take the “coldness” and “oneness” out of VR and recreate experiences of time with friends and family.
Leichtman Research Group says 56% of all U.S. homes have at least one television set connected to the Internet from a smart TV, video game set-top box, blu-ray player, and/or an Internet-connected TV-video device, such as Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, or Amazon Fire TV. This is up from 44% in 2013, and 24% in 2010. 52% of households have a subscription video on-demand service from Netflix, Amazon Prime, and/or Hulu Plus.
Some 33% of adults on a daily basis, and 58% weekly, watch video on non-TV devices — home computers, mobile phones, iPads, tablets, and eReaders. This is up from 27% daily, and 53% weekly two years ago.
Why It’s Hot: We currently leverage connected data sets (assignment of unique user IDs to all devices used/owned) to understand how people are reached by our TV commercials and to use digital video channels to provide a more optimal video experience to those people; e.g., delivering more exposure to those who are under-reached, exposing those who have been viewing our competitors’ commercials, et al. However, TV still dominates in terms of penetration and offers almost no control over message delivery (e.g., targeting, frequency management). As more HHs convert to connected TVs and as viewing shifts from linear TV to on-demand, subscription-based TV, marketers will have much more control over message delivery and theoretically, will deliver an experience that is better for the consumer (no more message bombardment caused by marketers who are trying to attain 1% more reach) and for business.
Check into most hotel rooms today and your TV viewing choices consist of local channels and standard cable fare such as the Weather Channel, Discovery, USA, etc. But none of the streaming networks that you can’t get with ordinary cable are available So no Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.
That’s about to change. In a nod to the future and the rapid growth of streaming Internet content (video and music), Marriott Hotels is offering Netflix, Hulu and Pandora to their guests via their in-room high-def TVs as part of a test. As Bloomberg reported, Marriott spokesperson John Wolf said “We have invited leading technology companies and content providers to work with us to design the next wave in in-room entertainment focusing on on-demand programming. We are currently offering guests in eight test hotels the opportunity to stream their content through our high-definition TVs whether it is Netflix, Hulu or Pandora.”
Marriott is currently considering payment options — possibly as part of a premium Internet package or as a separate charge to stream each network — one for Netflix, one for Hulu, etc. For now, Marriott is allowing guests in test locations to log in through their own subscription accounts for streaming content, as noted by this Twitter post.
Wow. I’m impressed. The Marriott TV system they have here allows you to log into Netflix, Hulu, etc for free with your own account.
Why It’s Hot
With the popularity of streaming content providers, it’s no surprise that hotels are trying to monetize it. What better way to relax from a business trip than binge watching your favorite series or relaxing the kids after a day at Disney than their favorite shows on Hulu? It also a win for Netflix and others, who can open up new revenue opportunities by streaming their content not to a single household at a time, but a hotel’s worth of a hundred guest rooms. Look for this idea to rapidly take off.
Hulu announced three interesting new ad innovations at the Hulu Upfront event in New York City last week:
1. The “in-stream purchase unit” which lets its viewers order food from Pizza Hut during commercial breaks, without needing to leave the current screen they’re watching. This will be rolled out later in the year with Pizza Hut as the company’s partner. The ad unit will enable Hulu’s customers to order food for pick-up or delivery without veering away from the Hulu page. The ad makes it easier for viewers to order food, as well as enables advertisers to target their preferred market at the right time.
2. Cross platform interactive ads, which will launch in partnership with Corona in the summer. These aim to make interactive ads available across different platforms, including mobile and living room viewing devices.
3. Hulu 360 ad, which Hulu simply describes as being able to identify which mobile platform the viewer is on and going beyond traditional video ads to deliver a “groundbreaking viewing experience” powered by 360 design company Immersive Media.
Why It’s Hot:
It’s always interesting to see innovations in digital advertising. What Hulu has done is innovative from a user experience and technology standpoint. I’m curious to see will how other types of advertisers can take advantage of in-stream purchasing — can it apply to a range or purchases? Or is it all about immediate gratification?
Additionally, we’ve had a number of conversations here about technology and laziness — is ordering pizza from your commercial too much?
Conde Nast Entertainment announced at NewFronts on Tuesday that it has launched a video distribution portal for quality media called The Scene. The new warehouse will curate premium digital-first video. In addition to Conde Nast, video providers for the new venture will include BuzzFeed, Major League Soccer, ABC News, Variety, Weather Channel Films and Jash.
Think of it as a Hulu for videos produced exclusively for digital-media platforms. The Scene “addresses a void in the marketplace,” Mr. Santarpia said. “There are plenty of large portals for user-generated content and cat videos, he explained, as well as sites that repurpose TV. The Scene is meant to showcase high-quality digital-native videos so they don’t lost in the ocean of TV shows and user-generated stuff.”
Read more here.
Why It’s Hot
The Scene is Conde Nast effort to get their videos in front of enough people to satisfy advertisers. What’s missing, however, is exactly how Conde Nast Entertainment will drive viewers to The Scene, which rolls out in July.
Also, a comment about “so they don’t lost in the ocean of TV shows and user-generated stuff” – Today we mostly “search” the web (vs. surfing it). Also, tags feed algorithms to help us discover.
Deadbeat, an original series from Hulu, is using an anonymous app to promote the new show. Whisper is an app that allows users to post anonymous messages on a featured picture that has text to prompt conversations. Users often use the app to share regrets, embarrassing secrets and strange desires. Whisper claims that there is no way for these secret messages to be traced back to the true identity of the user that posted them.
Since the show features a detective that speaks with spirits to help them resolve unfinished business, Deadbeat’s promoted content within the app mainly features topics related to unfinished business. Whisper will offer these images to users they deem interested (based on their discussing topics around certain keywords) to spark conversation.
Images that are planted by Hulu will have the Deadbeat logo on them so users will know that they are promoted content. Whisper’s CEO said that his app is still working to figure out how ads will be recognized as such within the platform for the future.
Why it’s Hot
This platform presents a unique opportunity for brands to spark conversations about topics of their choice, while gaining exposure for their brand. This app enables companies to encourage authentic user-generated content in a non-traditional way. In addition, this is another way for a brand to find out more about the audience and do so in a platform where users can be bluntly honest.
A Whisper employee sums it up well when he states, “We have always believed that Whisper would be a great content marketing and brand storytelling platform. People whisper about their favorite movies, shows and brands all the time. It can be some of our best content.”
Read more here and here.
Farmed and Dangerous, a satirical television series produced by Chipotle, premiered February 17th on Hulu. It’s no surprise that the program has outraged farmers and agricultural groups and is on the heels of the ongoing concerns on how animals are raised, the safety of genetically modified crops (GMOs) and the public outcry over “pink slime.”
Can you view the trailer here: Farmed and Dangerous Trailer
This is not the company’s first foray into addressing these issues. Check out last year’s “Back to the Start”, which has been viewed over 8.2 million times, here: Back to the Start and The Scarecrow, viewed over 12.1 million times, here: The Scarecrow
Why It’s Hot
Brands need new ways to break through to consumers and through Unbranded Entertainment, as it is being dubbed, is the next revolution in connection advertising with the ultimate goal of getting us (as consumers) to think about the way we live our lives, forge an emotional connections to brands and get us talking (& sharing) to stimulate buzz.