Hulu has a Positioning Problem, not a Commercial Problem

There’s something fundamentally different about Hulu and Netflix. And that’s not a bad thing. Actually, it’s a really good thing.

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around Netflix, binge viewing, and how Netflix is going to make the most out of binge viewing. Everything about Netflix makes it easy to watch for hours: there are no commercials, entire seasons are released at once, and it’s accessible on basically any mobile device.

Have you ever tried to binge watch on Hulu? It’s impossible. Every few minutes, Hulu literally interrupts any attempt at binge viewing with its commercials. Hulu isn’t Netflix. Hulu will never be Netflix. And honestly, that’s not a bad thing.

With all this hoopla surrounding Netflix and binge watching, we’re forgetting that there’s a dark side to binging: purging.  Yes, people love to indulge. But people also feel guilty for indulging. And there are a lot of people who are tired of the binge-purge cycle.

To all the Hulu Execs out there: It’s time to rebrand Hulu. Instead of being apologetic about commercials, Hulu needs to reposition itself as an alternative to Netflix.

All Hulu needs to do is make a few simple changes so it can successfully reposition itself as the moderate alternative to Netflix. First and foremost, stop letting consumers choose the commercials they watch. If a consumer doesn’t want to watch any commercials at all, giving them a choice only leads to frustration. And second, if Hulu is going to offer full seasons of a show, or even more than a few episodes, all the commercials should come at the beginning of the episode. No one is going to watch several episodes in one sitting when Hulu interrupts the experience every 4-7 minutes.

Right now, Hulu is stuck in a weird place between live TV and Netflix. It’s not TV because you watch it on a computer and it’s not Netflix because it has commercials.

So, what is Hulu? Hulu is something I can watch on my 20-minute lunch break. It’s there to provide some much needed relief and it keeps me up to date, but it isn’t trying to take over my life.