×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hulu Boss on How ‘The Mindy Project’ Helped Streamer Build Comedy Brand

By the time the opportunity came up for Hulu to pick up new seasons of former Fox comedy “The Mindy Project” as an original, the streamer had already been in the production game for four years. It started in 2011 with Morgan Spurlock’s docu-series “A Day in the Life” and expanded greatly in 2013 with such projects as the animated comedy “The Awesomes,” as well as the supernatural comedy “Deadbeat.” The move of “The Mindy Project” from the acquired streaming rights into its original content slate was not inexpensive, but Hulu’s head of content, Craig Erwich, still says it was a “no-brainer.”

“The show was still creatively excellent, and there was still clearly a demand for it,” Erwich says of the appetite around “The Mindy Project” when Hulu ordered a 26-episode fourth season in 2015. “And Mindy has a unique and endearing personality and sense of style and self-awareness of the comedy of the show that felt like a personification of all things Hulu.”

The first three seasons of “The Mindy Project” were strong performers for Hulu, which took quick notice of the devout fanbase around the show and around Mindy Kaling herself. Furthermore, though, Erwich says, Kaling was “always a part of the family” because she had worked with the streamer to promote its services to advertisers during upfronts ceremonies while they were licensing her show.

As an up-and-comer in the original content game, Hulu was then (and still is) looking to be an environment where “people can do their best, most authentic and creative work,” Erwich says. Hulu did not want to “put a stamp” on the show when ordering new episodes, but instead allow Kaling’s vision to live on. “Our job was just to be a facilitator and keep her connected to her audience,” Erwich says.

Picking up “The Mindy Project” helped Hulu further flesh out its comedy brand, as it was of a genre (romcoms) that was becoming increasingly rare. By continuing to provide new and celebrated content in that vein, opportunities opened up to service a specific kind of customer longer-term. “There was a small movie called ‘Joshy’ we picked up because we thought people who watched ‘The Mindy Project’ would like it,” Erwich says. “That’s how you build a service that has value for your viewers.”

A creator such as Kaling coming to Hulu also opened it up to other, bigger-name collaborations and business ventures. “Anytime someone like Mindy, who is revered in the comedy world, comes to your platform and says, ‘I want to work with these guys’ and can vouch for you, it creates opportunities. You’re only as good as your relationships,” Erwich says.

“Mindy has a unique and endearing personality and sense of style and self-awareness of the comedy of the show that felt like a personification of all things Hulu.”
Craig Erwich

Hulu has recently added Robert Smigel, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to that list of key comedic talent relationships.

But “The Mindy Project” also helped create critical and social buzz for Hulu because of the “brand and pop culture dynamo” that Erwich credits Kaling with being. She brought a “specific set of values” along with her “wholly original” show that had a “unique tone all its own.” All of these things combined led to Hulu increasing its subscribers, as well as increasing its accolades, acquisitions and roster of prolific programming.

“I’ve often said if you think about who is the best person to represent Hulu, it would be Mindy,” Erwich says. “There has been a weekly excitement when the shows are rolling out. People are talking about the show externally and internally, and people are talking about Hulu.”

More TV

  • EMPIRE: L-R: Toby Onwumere and Jussie

    Jussie Smollett's 'Empire' Character Ties the Knot as Actor's Future on Show Is Unclear

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the April 24th episode of “Empire.” Jussie Smollett’s character on “Empire” got married in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, but the actor’s ongoing assault controversy makes his future on the show uncertain. The episode, entitled “Never Doubt I Love,” was Smollett’s last confirmed appearance in [...]

  • Riverdale -- "Chapter Thirty-Three: Shadow of

    'Riverdale' Airs Luke Perry's Final Scene

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear The Reaper,” the April 24 episode of “Riverdale.” “Riverdale” has aired late actor Luke Perry’s final scene as Andrews patriarch Fred. In “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear the Reaper,” the 19th episode of the third season of “Riverdale,” Archie (KJ Apa) was worried about [...]

  • "We Turn Up This Music Louder

    TV Review: 'The Red Line'

    For all that broadcast TV’s power has attenuated in recent years, what they choose to put on still means something — and, from a certain point of view, something more than the choices made by prestige outlets. After all, the reach of broadcasters is without parallel. They’re simply in that many more homes than prestige [...]

  • Grey's Anatomy Season 15

    Broadcast Bubble Shows 2019: What's Coming Back, What’s Not

    While many broadcast shows have already been picked up for next season, plenty of favorites are still waiting to learn their fates. Given that the broadcasters are currently evaluating this year’s crop of comedy and drama pilots, some current shows will unfortunately have to shuffle off to that great network in the sky, where they [...]

  • Elizabeth Olsen Wanda Vision

    Elizabeth Olsen Says Disney+ Series 'WandaVision' Is Set in 1950s

    “Avengers: Endgame” star Elizabeth Olsen tells Variety that “WandaVision,” the forthcoming Disney+ series about her superhero character, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, will be set in the 1950s. “There’s quite a few other comic books that we’re pulling from and it’s going to be Wanda and the Vision, and I think at the Disney+ launch chat, they [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    CBS Chiefs: Former Exec's Claim Network 'Has a White Problem' Is 'Disheartening,' 'Painful'

    Susan Zirinsky, president of CBS News, and Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, sent emails to staff Tuesday expressing concern over claims made in an essay published in Variety in which CBS veteran Whitney Davis detailed racist discrimination and sexual harassment she witnessed and was subjected to at the network. In response, Zirinsky said Davis’ [...]

  • BBC Studios Making Prince Charles Series

    BBC Studios Making Prince Charles Series for ITV

    ITV has greenlit a BBC Studios-produced series about Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. “Inside the Duchy” (working title) will follow the Prince of Wales over two one-hour episodes to mark his 50th year as the holder of the title of Duke of Cornwall. The producers said the series will give an unprecedented [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content