Hulu Plus arrived on Apple TV Tues as Hulu content programmers arrived in Los Angeles to speak with TV critics at TCA. Struggling slightly to define the service, Andy Forssell, Hulu svp of content, called it “a bit of an odd animal. We’re not a network, we’re not a studio, we’re a distributor, in industry terms…” Its goal is to “help people find things they know and love… and uncover buried treasure.”
So what’s Hulu’s advantage over networks? While nets spend a great deal of time “explaining common threads of their shows,” and program to specific demos like teenage males or 20 somethings, Hulu’s not limited to a certain audience. “You won’t see that with us. You’ll see a lot of diversity,” he said. Moreover, “our audience is big and getting bigger.” What’s particularly important, said Forssell, is that the platform’s audience shares the content. “You gotta take some chances,” he said, to “inspire viewers to go share with their friends.”
The series “Up to Speed,” (premieres August 9), for instance, indie filmmaker Richard Linklater’s first TV project, features quirky historian and tour guide Timothy “Speed” Levitch as he visits under-appreciated monuments in the U.S. A longtime fan of Speed’s, Linklater has worked with the host on many projects, beginning with the film “Waking Life.”
“It was a magical jumbalaya of events that created a really good meal,” said Speed himself on the show coming together. “My mom was the most surprised.” On his approach to urban exploration he noted, “A city to me is eventually a profound opportunity to understand ourselves.” That means appreciating a city’s fire hydrants, dumpters, even cracks in the sidewalks. The end goal? He’ll try for “walking tours on the Indiana Jones level.” And if the series gets a 2nd season, they’ll try to expand by visiting international cities.