Source: The Handmaid’s Tale‏ Twitter account.

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Propels Hulu Past 20 Million Subscribers

(Bloomberg) -- Hulu LLC’s streaming service has surpassed 20 million subscribers, thanks to interest in original programs like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and a live TV service.

Hulu, which is owned by four media giants, has added at least 3 million customers since January, when the company said it had reached 17 million subscribers.

That pace means Hulu is growing more quickly in the U.S. than any other pay-TV service, including Netflix, the company said.

Once primarily an outpost for TV reruns, Hulu scored its first original hit last year with an adaptation of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel set in a dystopian future. The company just released the second season of the show and has renewed it for a third.

“Hulu has the creativity and resources to go head-to-head with anyone -- and win,” Chief Executive Officer Randy Freer said during a presentation to advertisers in New York on Wednesday. Freer, a long-time executive at Fox, joined Hulu last year.

Hulu is spending a couple billion dollars a year on programming, a sum comparable to other major TV networks -- though only a fraction of the amount that rival Netflix Inc. shells out. Hulu is still mostly only available in the U.S.

Hulu claims that its library of TV shows surpasses every other streaming service out there. The company has licensed reruns of hit programs “The Good Doctor” and “Atlanta,” and it’s expanding into new genres like kids programming.

Hulu also acquired exclusive rights to movies from DreamWorks Animation, and the two companies will also collaborate on new TV series. A partnership with Spotify Technology SA has helped as well. It offers a bundle that packages both services for one price.

To help generate more revenue, Hulu plans to start offering advertising on its live-TV service this quarter.

Founded by NBC and Fox as a counterweight to Netflix and YouTube, Hulu has shuffled between a few different strategies before settling on its current path. Its future is muddied by Walt Disney Co.’s planned acquisition of Fox’s stake, which would give that company a majority share of Hulu.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.