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NewFronts 2016: Hulu Goes Interactive With Advertising

Hulu announced a series of programming and advertising deals at its upfront presentation in New York Wednesday.

The streaming company said it made a deal with BrightLine that will create ad units viewers can interact with in their living rooms.

Hulu also said it made deals with Nielsen and Millward Brown that will give it more efficient measurement tools for advertisers and marketers.

It also formed a new documentary film unit and said it acquired Ron Howard's film The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.

At its NewFronts presentation, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed Hulu was looking into a subscription service offering a skinny bundle that would enable viewers to get live sports and news channels in addition to and on-demand programming without a cable or satellite subscription. He said Hulu was aiming for the first quarter of 2017 to launch the service.

"Over the past year, we've propelled Hulu by adding an extraordinary array of original series, hit broadcast and cable shows and blockbuster movies to our content portfolio – all of which has led to incredible growth in subscribers and engagement," said Hopkins. "In 2016, we're going even bigger and bolder. We'll expand our offering with more premium content and brand new ad measurement products that will continue to make Hulu the leader and choice for seamless entertainment and advertising experiences."

Hulu says it is up to 12 million subscribers. It renewed its original shows The Path and The Mindy Project. And in a presidential year, it said it will air a new election special from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Hulu said its deal with BrightLine makes it the first streaming service to deliver interactive ads exclusively for the living room.

"Hulu offers brands the most effective way to reach the streaming audience, at scale, in the living room," said Hulu senior VP of advertising sales, Peter Naylor. "The partnerships we've announced today with Nielsen, Millward Brown and BrightLine point to the future of television and everything that's possible in a connected TV environment – and we are happy to be leading the way in both creativity and measurement."

Hulu said its new  collaboration with Nielsen that will enable digital ad measurement through Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings to capture OTT viewing in the living room environment for the first time. This will be the first comprehensive ad measurement solution to debut across living room platforms from Roku and PlayStation to Xbox and Apple TV and all Hulu-enabled living room devices, Hulu said. Through the collaboration, Hulu will have the capability to deliver the accurate measurement of viewership beyond the PC for advertisers on a campaign level basis.

In addition, Hulu announced it will begin to provide increased advertising effectiveness insights and tools through a new partnership with market research firm Millward Brown. The partnership will deliver studies, research papers and stats including brand affinity metrics for marketers and advertisers that will span across over-the-top viewing environments. Magna Global, the strategic global investment and intelligence unit of IPG Mediabrands—with clients including Arby's, Aveeno, BMW, Coca-Cola, Dunkin' Donuts, FCA US LLC and IHOP—will be beta partners at launch in this groundbreaking initiative for Hulu.

Hulu has secured the exclusive U.S. streaming VOD rights to Academy Award winner Ron Howard's feature documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week (working title). Featuring rare and exclusive footage, the film is produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison. 

White Horse Pictures' Grammy Award-winning Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Academy Award-winner and multiple nominee Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment are producing with Howard. Apple Corps Ltd's Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde are serving as executive producers, along with Imagine's Michael Rosenberg and White Horse's Guy East and Nicholas Ferrall.

Debuting in theaters and on Hulu this fall, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week is based on the first part of The Beatles' career.