Hulu brags about a good year, Netflix fires back, and Nielsen gets ready to keep score

Credit: Source: Hulu

Hulu and Netflix are at it again, each doing its best to get your eyeballs on their service. And that's a good thing.

Yesterday morning Hulu held an event called Hulu Upfront. They had good news to share: their paid subscriber numbers have doubled in 2012 and in Q1 of this year they broke the 4 million subscriber mark.

If you're a Hulu fan it's good to hear the company is doing well, but what you really want to know is: what's in it for me? Well Hulu also announced a couple of new exclusive shows.

First up is Quick Draw, a half-hour comedy about a Harvard-educated sheriff in 1875 Great Bend, Kansas. Sheriff Hoyle, played by John Lehr, is trying to introduce modern forensics to the crime fighting way of life. (I find it interesting that this same theme has been explored in a non-comedic way recently in Copper and Ripper Street). Quick Draw is coming this summer.

Let's hope Hulu does comedy better than Amazon does.

Hulu also introduced East Los High, a drama about an inner city school in East Los Angeles. East Los High is about a couple of cousins in love with the same guy (a football star, of course). The cast, director, writers and creators are all Latino and many come from East L.A. and the show has had input from various public health organizations "to address teen issues related to relationships and sexuality in a meaningful way." Hulu didn't give an air date for East Los High.

You can read more about Hulu Upfront on the Hulu blog.

A good morning for Hulu and Netflix couldn't let that go unchallenged, so yesterday afternoon Netflix issued a press release about its next original content, Orange is the New Black. This one comes from Jenji Kohan who previously did Showtime's dark comedy Weeds, and it takes place in a woman's prison. It stars Taylor Schilling and is based on Piper Kerman's memoir of the same name. Netflix is calling it a comedic drama and I'm guessing it'll be as uncomfortable as Weeds often was. Orange is the New Black hits Netflix on July 11th.

As someone who frowns at his cable bill more and more every month, I'm really happy to see Hulu, Netflix and yes, even Amazon, trying to upstage each other in the area of original programming. I can't wait for the day when I feel comfortable cutting that cord.

What might help that day come sooner is having a better way to measure how many people are viewing streaming content online. (Nice segue, eh?) From The Wall Street Journal comes word the Nielsen is set to roll out a tool to measure online viewing of TV shows. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it won't track Netflix, Hulu or Amazon VOD, just network websites. It won't even track mobile devices, at least at first. This is more of a pilot program than anything. Of course Nielsen doesn't care about Netflix or Amazon because those services have no ads, but hopefully it will be able to add Hulu, as well as the various mobile apps that networks provide, soon.

But it's a step in the right direction. When I watch a show I love on my tablet, I'd really like to be counted since essentially every time we watch a show we're casting a vote for keeping it around for another season. I'm tired of having my favorite shows canceled because some family with a Nielsen box on their TV isn't watching! #firstworldproblems

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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