Next TV: Hulu’s Koh Looks for ‘Truly Ambitious’ Shows

New York—A little more than three years after the launch of subscription service Hulu Plus, Charlotte Koh, head of development, Hulu originals, says that original programming is becoming a more important part of Hulu’s day-to-day business.

“We are continuing to move in the direction of advantaging the Plus product through more content, better content sooner,” Koh said Tuesday in an interview with Broadcasting & Cable editor-in-chief Melissa Grego at the Next TV Summit. “In general the philosophy over time will be to use the free service in a way that helps people understand that there is a value added if you’re a pay subscriber.”

Koh preceded the conversation with a presentation offering a snapshot of where Hulu is. She noted that the service is currently available on 5 million devices, including Chromecast, gaming consoles and Roku. She added that 59% of Hulu’s streams now come through living-room devices, and that two-thirds of Hulu watchers watch with other people.

Grego asked how original programming fits into the company’s vision given recent executive change—including the arrival in October of new CEO Mike Hopkins.

“Mike has been an excellent supporter of original programming,” Koh said, adding, “We want to talk about shows that are truly innovative, that are ambitious.”

As for how she defines success for a Hulu original, “We look at it from a qualitative and annotative perspective,” Koh said, adding that number of views is a factor. “We care if people are watching, for sure. But I also think we’re a very young company. We’ve just celebrated our sixth birthday. We’ve only been doing original programming for two and a half years.”

Also important for Hulu when it comes to originals is being part of the cultural conversation. Koh looks at whether a show is drawing media attention when assessing, staying on “top of mind” in the consumer press.

“In the past we’ve been recognized as the best of last night’s television,” she said. Originals are intended to change that perception.