Consumer Opinions On Hulu Commercials

Using Analysis of Viewer Sentiment to Inform Business Revenue Strategy

Hulu, the five-year-old digital video service, is at a crossroads after the departure of its founding CEO in early January. The industry’s favored business model is still to be determined, with some services emphasizing paid subscriptions while others rely on advertising revenue. One voice likely left out of the strategic debates involving investors, management and industry analysts is that of consumer opinions, a voice that Crimson Hexagon can measure using the ForSight™ social media analysis platform.
We used social media analysis to explore if, in the depths of winter 2013, social media users are drawn to Hulu for specific programming or because it is a free way to pass time while stuck inside. Also able to gauge consumers’ reaction to ads, Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ analysis can shed light on ways to make commercial interruptions more palatable to viewers.
Hulu social opinion analysisThe majority of the Hulu conversation involves engagement with specific programming (56%), and there is a striking diversity in the content users are tweeting about. Meanwhile, 21% of the commentary was from consumers turning to Hulu to relax or pass time:
Twitter post reflects consumer opinion
Consumer opinion on Twitter
A steady stream of criticism (23%) of the Hulu experience centers on ad length or content:
A key advantage that ForSight™ social media analysis holds over traditional market research is its ability to track these well-defined trends over time.  In just the past two months, ForSight™ detected several significant events that can add depth to management’s understanding of their brand and customer preferences.
Hulu consumer opinions graphAn apparent spike in negative opinions on February 9 sheds light on consumer opinion of Hulu’s advertising options:
Seinfield tweet reflects consumer opinion on HuluThe original author is of course a parody Twitter account, but retweets of this post made up 83% of the Hulu conversation on February 9. That the sentiment is so widely felt implies that, no matter how compelling the options, commercial messaging is never considered “relevant” by Hulu viewers.
In contrast, criticism of Hulu dwindled to negligible proportions on both Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day, as the conversations were overwhelmed by engagement with special programming. Hulu hosts AdZone, which allows viewers to preview, replay, and share their favorite Super Bowl commercials. AdZone proved popular with the online audience – 97% of the conversation on February 3 was made up of social media users publicizing their viewership.
Remarkably, on Valentine’s Day, 100% of Hulu commentary on Twitter is from viewers engaging with specific programming:
Word cloud on Hulu consumer opinionsIf not out on expensive dinner dates, social media users were mostly engaged with the romantic Oscar-winning short Paperman and films in the Criterion Collection. Hulu partnered with Criterion to provide classic and contemporary film content free of charge over Valentine’s Day weekend, likely in an attempt to convert viewers to Hulu Plus, where Criterion content is always available.
As Hulu faces strategic decisions, it will be valuable to know that some of the most talked-about content recently was short, high-profile special features (Super Bowl ads & Paperman). And when seeking answers to the big question of whether subscriptions or ad sales create a more sustainable business model, Hulu can use ForSight™ to track nuanced reactions to these features over time.
A distinct advantage social media analysis holds over surveys and focus groups is that consumer opinions measured by ForSight™ are unsolicited and made in a public forum. ForSight™ enables a proportional breakdown of the major strands in a brand conversation, and then tracks them over time, which provides necessary insight for confident understanding of consumer needs and behavior.

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