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Hulu reaches 28 million subscribers and announces new Marvel shows and ad formats

Megan Graham

Hulu announced at a presentation to advertisers Wednesday that it now has 26.8 million paid subscribers. It's also introducing new advertising features and several new shows, including two new series featuring Marvel Comics characters.

Hulu's new "binge advertising" experience comes as advertisers are increasingly seeking to reach customers in a way that doesn't annoy them or disrupt their experience. This new format will "make it possible for marketers to target binge viewers with a creative that is situationally relevant to their viewing behavior," the company said in a statement.

The company didn't describe how binge ads will be displayed in its initial announcement, but some think Hulu will let advertisers sponsor an limited-interruption "binge" session of a show.

Hulu also offers "pause ads," which appear when a viewer pauses their content on Hulu. The company said it's expanding the availability of those pause ads beginning in August.

The company is expected to provide more detail on how pause ads and binge ads will be displayed during its NewFronts presentation in New York on Wednesday.

Hulu said its total customer base now includes 26.8 million monthly paid subscribers, with 1.3 million promotional accounts. The company had said in January it had 25 million total subscribers. Meanwhile, competitor Netflix said in April it had reached 148.8 subscribers globally and 60.2 million subscribers domestically. Disney, which owns 60% of Hulu, will also pull content from Netflix this year to stream on its own new service, Disney+, which launches in November.

The streaming service also announced new Marvel shows as part of an expanded partnership with Marvel for two new live-action series, "Marvel's Ghost Rider" and "Marvel's Helstrom." Both shows are expected to debut in 2020.

Disney-owned Marvel will also have four different live-action series and two unscripted series on Disney+. The service will cost subscribers $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year. That's versus Hulu's current prices of ad-supported service for $5.99 per month or $11.99 per month without ads.

Hulu also confirmed a slate of new food-centric programming, plus an adaptation of Liane Moriarty's book "Nine Perfect Strangers," an order for "The Dropout," a series starring Kate McKinnon based on the ABC News podcast on the rise and fall of Theranos and founder Elizabeth Holmes and a two-year partnership with Chrissy Teigen for original programming.

Now that Hulu is mostly owned by Disney following the Fox acquisition, the service is expected to become a key part of Disney's streaming strategy. At an investors presentation last month, Disney said it would offer Hulu as a bundle if people subscribe to Disney+ and ESPN+.

CNBC reported last month that Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, was in talks with Disney to sell its 30% stake in Hulu.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC.