Hulu, one of the popular OTTs in the US, used pirate sites’ popularity to get users in its initial stages. This clever marketing strategy used once upon a time for its Hulu Plus was revealed by a key marketing member of Hulu and is one of the best ones. This move helped Hulu gain the first 2 million paid subscribers, says the source.
Hulu Plus Used to Advertise on Pirate Sites
Pirate sites are often annoying for copyright holders. While these steal the copyrighted content for free and stream them for personal benefits, they’re regularly targeted for such actions by the rights holders and settle losses somehow. But instead of suing, Hulu found a clever way to cash on it.
A conversation sparked by Patrick O’Shaughnessy on Twitter asking, “What is the most clever customer acquisition strategy you’ve ever seen?” has many responses catered from various people. Among them, one interesting response by Jay Rockman, an ex-member of Hulu’s marketing team, wondered everyone.
A fun story… when Hulu Plus launched, I contacted every illegal streaming listings site (with great SEO/20M+ uniques per month each) before Google was forced to remove them from organic search listings.
— Jay Rockman (@Rockman) April 22, 2021
He revealed that to gain subscribers for the newly launched Hulu Plus, Rockman approached then-popular pirate sites like Surf The Channel and advertised Hulu on their platforms! This resulted in a successful campaign. As Rockman said, that’s how Hulu Plus gained the first 2 million paid subscribers quickly. Hulu now has a basic version, Hulu with no ads, and a range-topping Hulu + Live TV.
Rockman explained that he approached popular pirate sites with an SEO/20M+ uniques per month each and struck a deal with them instead of suing! Rockman offered to pay them $0.50 CPM and, in some cases, an affiliate fee to place ads for Hulu Plus banners on their website and redirected most of the traffic to benefit themselves.
Though this strategy worked back then, it wouldn’t be successful now due to Google’s new crackdown policies. For a couple of years, Google is pulling down pirate sites from the top search results, thus helping them with organic traffic.