Hulu’s creative chief, Craig Erwich, has said plans to set up its own in-house studio hinge upon its wider international ambitions.
The catch-up and streaming service currently only requires US rights and can commission originals and work on co–productions on that basis, without the need for a studio to service a wider international network.
Speaking at INTV in Jerusalem and asked whether Hulu plans to set up an in-house studio – as the likes of Amazon have done alongside global service expansion – Erwich said the decision is inextricably linked to its rights deals and negotiations.
“It’ll be really dictated by what our international plans are,” he said. “Right now, we’re a domestic service, so there’s a whole set of rights we don’t need.”
Hulu has become an active co–producer, making The Wrong Mans and The Thick of It with the BBC, and more recently Harlots with ITV.
It has also moved into original programming, with the likes of 11.22.63 and the upcoming ten-part adaptation of Margaret Attwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale with Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men).
The above-mentioned UK copros are sold by British distributors, and The Handmaid’s Tale is sold internationally by MGM International Television Distribution, which is producing the series. The fact Hulu only requires US rights allows it to forge better deals for originals and copros, Erwich said.
“Frankly out subscribers don’t really care about our deals, they just want the best shows,” he said. “Not having to command a certain set of rights allows us much greater flexibility in who we are in business with.”
Hulu did expand to Japan, but subsequently sold that business to local broadcaster Nippon TV, which now runs the service.
Other attempts at global expansion, including a move into the UK, were ultimately unsuccessful.
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