Hulu, best known for streaming the content of others, is launching two new original shows before the summer begins. Battleground is a 30-minute scripted political comedy set to start next month and run for 13 episodes in its first season. The other show is a travelogue directed by Richard Linklater. Hulu's first original-content show — A Day in the Life — returns in March. Hulu says that its original shows have a budget close to that of shows found on cable which can run anywhere between $500,000 and a few million dollars per episode. The joint venture formed by NBC, Fox, and ABC will spend about $500 million on content in 2012, the vast majority of which will be used to license works from traditional TV.
Hulu's increased spending on original content comes as the company's revenue and subscriber counts grew in 2011. It's also part of a larger trend to bring original programming to the web as noted by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings just last month. Netflix will premier Lillyhammer in February and produce new episodes of Arrested Development and House of Cards. Likewise, Google is spending over $100 million to produce original content for dozens of new YouTube channels as HBO Go makes good on its own expansion plans.