Disney, which barely a year ago took full operational control of Hulu and seven months ago launched subscription service Disney+, is making both streaming services key parts of its presentation to ad buyers.
Instead of the traditional in-person spring upfront event at New York’s Lincoln Center, the company sent advertisers a 45-minute video showcasing its various brands as it enforced social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its sales force is also conducting a series of virtual meetings with clients old and new.
“Disney is a leader with connecting Generation Family with Generation Stream,” intoned American Idol host Ryan Seacrest during one sequence of the Disney Advertising Sales Virtual Roadshow. As he spoke, the screen showed a montage of iPads, laptops and phones and a clip from Disney+ flagship show The Mandalorian played. It was an unlikely tableau during a broadcast upfront, but it signaled the fact that traditional media companies have gone all in on streaming, none more so than Disney.
“Hulu’s younger, more engaged audience watches TV differently,” Seacrest continued. “More bingeing, more devices, more options. They expect personalized, on-demand options that give them choice and control.”
Hulu’s ad revenue reached $1.5 billion in 2019 and is on track hit $2.7 billion by 2021, according to a recent forecast by eMarketer. Delivering programming via the internet affords any programmer some inherent advantages in terms of targeting. That means that while the overall ad environment is chaotic due to COVID-19, buyers are able