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Hulu's first scripted show "Battleground"  (Source: businesswire.com)
The company is looking to raise money this year for original programming in order to compete with video streaming giant Netflix

Hulu is following in Netflix's footsteps with plans to raise money for original programming, including its first scripted show that is to premiere next month.

According to Andy Forssell, Hulu's chief content officer, the company is looking to raise money this year for original programming in order to compete with video streaming giant Netflix, which spends about $2 billion on content annually. Original programs account for about 5 percent of Netflix's content budget.

Hulu is doing pretty well for itself with 2011 revenue of $420 million and over 1.5 million subscribers. According to Jason Kilar, Hulu's chief executive officer, the company will spend $500 million on TV shows and movies in 2012, which is a boost from the $300 million Hulu predicted last year. Hulu plans to raise money through added subscribers ($7.99 per month for Hulu Plus) by offering hit shows like "Misfits," which it acquired rights to last June.

"We have a very healthy business," said Forssell. "When you have a healthy business, capital is not a problem. There are plenty of people who want to help."

Hulu, which is owned by Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, Fox, Providence Equity Partners, and Comcast Corp.'s NBC, plans to release its first scripted show on February 14 called "Battleground," which is a mock-documentary about a third-place political candidate attempting to compete with rivals in Wisconsin.

In addition, Hulu ordered 10 new episodes of "A Day in the Life," which is a documentary series that will return in March, as well as a six-part documentary by Richard Linklater called "Up to Speed," which is due out in late 2012.

"We want to make great shows and get them out to the widest audience," said Forssell. "We considered giving earlier access to Plus users and other benefits, but right now the aim is to get them out to as many folks as possible."

Forssell mentioned that Hulu will continue adding exclusive programming through the first half of the year even if it doesn't raise money.

"We generate more buying power than most people assume," said Forssell. "We're not just a subscription model. We're not just an ad-based service. We're both."

Netflix will be launching its first original program, "Lilyhammer," just over a week before Hulu's "Battleground" releases in February. Netflix will then premiere its other original show, "House of Cards," later in 2012.

Sources: USA Today, Bloomberg





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