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Hulu hits 25 million subscribers, CEO says it's 'absolutely possible' to catch up to Netflix

Key Points
  • Hulu CEO Randy Freer says he thinks it's "absolutely possible" to catch up to the streaming giant.
  • Netflix has double the number of U.S. subscribers as Hulu and spends billions on programming.
  • Hulu added 8 million subscribers in 2018, and "we expect to grow more this year than we did last year," he says.
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Watch CNBC's full interview with Hulu CEO Randy Freer

Netflix may have double the number of U.S. subscribers as Hulu and spend billions on programming, but Hulu CEO Randy Freer told CNBC on Tuesday he thinks it's "absolutely possible" to catch up to the streaming giant.

He pointed to 2018 as a "good view" on how that's going to happen. Hulu announced on Tuesday it added 8 million U.S. subscribers in 2018, bringing its total to 25 million.

"We added more subscribers in the U.S. than Netflix," Freer said in an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin.

"We expect to grow more this year than we did last year," he added.

Streaming player menu screen featuring Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, Hulu, and Redbox Instant.
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Netflix has a total of 58 million U.S. subscribers. It added 1.09 million domestic subscribers in the third quarter of 2018, 674,000 in the second quarter and 1.96 million in the first quarter. It is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings later this month.

"They are an awesome service and have great programming in certain areas," Freer said of Netflix. "I look at where we are now, with 85,000 episodes of on-demand television, that's twice as much as Netflix and Amazon combined."

Both Amazon and Netflix have been spending big on original content, with the latter projected to spend a reported $13 billion in 2018.

It appears to be paying off in critical acclaim. Earlier this week, Netflix scored five Golden Globe awards, more than any other network or streaming service. Amazon won two Golden Globes for its original programming.

When asked if Hulu would spend more on content to compete, Freer replied, "We already spend a lot of money on content. And I think we will continue to invest in that."

He also pointed to its vast library.

"We can continue to not only drive our library viewing, which we all know still makes up the bulk of everyone's viewing in this universe, as well as continue to increase our investment in originals, look at movies as a way to drive subscriptions, as well as other verticals like food and travel, to really begin to be the choice and be a full-service television vehicle for consumers," he said.

Hulu will be 60 percent owned by Disney, once Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox is completed, 30 percent by Comcast and 10 percent by AT&T, which acquired its stake through its acquisition of Warner Media.

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.