Hulu’s Craig Erwich: Streaming Service Is ‘Very Important Strategic Asset’ to Disney, Owners

Craig Erwich Hulu press conference, TCA Winter Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA - 11 Feb 2019
David Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutter

Hulu’s senior vice president of originals Craig Erwich says that the streaming service will “continue to be an important player” as Disney absorbs 21st Century Fox’s entertainment properties, and said its release of its Fyre Festival documentary ahead of Netflix’s version “wasn’t meant as a dig.”

“Hulu is a very important strategic asset for our owners,” said Erwich at the Television Critics Assn. press tour on Monday, highlighting the streaming service’s 48% year-over-year subscriber growth in 2018 to 25 million. “You don’t get that kind of growth without the support of our ownership.”

He said the service would remain focused on bringing choices to its consumers and doesn’t anticipate that that part of its strategy will change as a result of the Disney-Fox merger. After the close of the acquisition, Disney will have a 60% majority stake in Hulu; Comcast owns 30% and AT&T owns 10% through WarnerMedia.

Erwich fielded several questions about its metrics, no doubt because Netflix’s metrics have been brought up routinely and sometimes critiqued at the TCA press tour. He would only say that Hulu watches the “tonal engagement” of its viewers rather than any one particular metric.

“We don’t have one metric or one number that indicates success,” he said.

In the way of numbers, Erwich did tout that Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud” documentary has been the No. 1 film on Hulu since it premiered four weeks ago. The film was pushed out four days ahead of Netflix’s own documentary about the failed music festival. Erwich indicated that it was important to Hulu to get its version to viewers first to set the record of what happened.

Erwich also discussed:

  • “Devil in the White City.” Hulu is developing a series based on the book, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese attached.
  • “Reprisal” and “The Great.” Both shows were ordered to series.
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The next season’s release has been moved to June because maintaining the quality of the show “which is impeccable, takes time,” said Erwich.
  • “Veronica Mars.” The revival will stay “very true to the character, very true to the world, but it is definitely an update. She is not a little girl anymore; you’ll see her dealing with contemporary issues in a contemporary world.”
  • “The First.” While he was proud of the show and Sean Penn’s part in it, “it wasn’t for everybody. Unfortunately the audience just didn’t materialize for it.”
  • “Minding the Gap.” The documentary picked up Hulu’s first Oscar nomination.
  • Hulu’s four newly announced Marvel animated series. Erwich says the tone will be generally be comedic, though that will vary by show. There are no firm release dates yet.
  • “The Runaways.” He has been “really happy” with its performance, and an announcement related to the show will be coming shortly.