Hulu Advertises Ad-Free Service; Spotify Experiments With Car Interfaces

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Ad-Free TV

Hulu took an important step earlier this month when it started running a commercial featuring “the Old Spice guy” – a Procter & Gamble icon – pitching Hulu’s ad-free subscription offer. That may seem like less of a first step than a cheeky way of selling ad-free TV with a TV ad, but Hulu had never promoted its ad-free option. Hulu initially didn’t want its audience skewing too heavily to ad-free subscriptions because it “needed the economics associated with a dual revenue stream in subscription and ad revenue,” CEO Randy Freer said on a recent Recode podcast. Sixty percent of new subscribers come via the ad-supported product, but that number is declining. And now Hulu is gearing up to promote the ad-free version, which is twice as expensive as the “limited commercial” option ($12 compared to $6). Whether the ads make up for that extra $6 per month depends on the subscriber, but the viewer experience and likely the stickiness of Hulu’s service improves with the ad-free option. The Streamable has more.

Audio Things

Spotify is testing a hardware device with a smart assistant to learn more about how people are listening to audio in the car. Cleverly dubbed “Car Thing,” the device links to a consumer’s Spotify account and connects to the car via Bluetooth to provide Spotify with more information about the in-car experience and user driving habits. The Car Thing test will run in the United States in the next couple of weeks with a small group of Spotify premium users. Spotify claims that Car Thing isn’t a signal that the company is getting into hardware. “Our focus remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform,” it said in a blog post. But Spotify has trademarked the name Car Thing, along with Voice Thing and Home Thing, indicating the streaming audio platform may have plans for a smart assistant or speaker of its own, The Verge reports. More.

Eat Mor Chikin

Fancy a chicken sandwich delivered to your door? Apparently Chick-fil-A customers do. The fast-food chain said digital now drives 20% of its sales, up from 16% last year, according to Business Insider. Digital growth at Chick-fil-A is being driven by a revamped app and loyalty program, launched in August with a month-long nugget giveaway program to encourage app downloads. The chain is preparing for a day when mobile orders make up at least half of all sales. "I think the biggest opportunity is continuing to figure out how to evolve our restaurants as mobile continues to grow," said Khalilah Cooper, director of service and hospitality at Chick-fil-A. More.  

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