May 1, 2019 / 1:04 PM / 3 months ago

Hulu achieves rapid growth, hits 26.8 million paid subscribers

May 1 (Reuters) - Hulu on Wednesday said it has reached 26.8 million paid subscribers, a milestone that suggested rapid growth in the first four months of the year.

In a presentation to advertisers ahead of a new programming season, the streaming service also said it will launch two new TV series based on Disney's Marvel characters Ghost Rider and Helstrom.

The new paid customer figure implies the digital video service controlled by Walt Disney Co and co-owned by Comcast Corp added close to 4 million new paying customers in the first four months of the year, based on previous disclosures by Disney.

By comparison, rival Netflix Inc added 5.7 million paid U.S. subscribers for all of 2018.

Overall, Hulu reported total customers reached 28 million, including 1.3 million promotional accounts.

Hulu is positioned as an important leg of the Mouse House's direct-to-consumer strategy, which includes the Nov. 12 launch of the Disney+ subscription video service.

Hulu is projected to lure as many as 60 million subscribers by 2024, according to Disney executives, who are considering expanding Hulu internationally.

On Wednesday Hulu executives told advertisers that it will launch a new advertising format that will appeal to binge watchers of shows.

Hulu said it has struck a deal with Vox Media Studios, MajorDomo Media and Suit & Thai Productions to create new food-themed original shows.

It has also greenlighted a limited series starring Kate McKinnon, who will play Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes in "The Dropout." (Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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