'Handmaid's Tale' effect? Hulu grows to 17 million subscribers

Netflix claims over 85 million subscribers

By SANDRA GONZALEZ
Headline Goes Here Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Hulu

LOS ANGELES (CNNMoney) - Hulu could be experiencing "The Handmaid's Tale" effect.

The streaming service announced Tuesday that it has grown to more than 17 million subscribers, up by more than 5 million since its last reported numbers from May 2016. That represents a 40% increase.

Hulu also said its total audience is now at 54 million unique viewers.

One reason for this growth can likely be attributed to the success of "The Handmaid's Tale," a drama based on the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood.

The series picked up two awards at Sunday's Golden Globes, including best drama. Back in August, it also picked up 10 Emmy awards, including the first-ever statue for a streaming service in the best drama category.

This critical attention has paid off for the series and Hulu. "The Handmaid's Tale" was among Hulu's most-watched dramas in 2017, based on hours watched, the company said.

The two other most-watched dramas were "Law & Order: SVU" and "This Is Us."

Both of those shows air on NBC but exist on Hulu as part of its expanding on-demand library.

Hulu claims its has over 75,000 episodes of television available on its service, "more than twice of the number available on any of the other leading streaming services," it touted in a release, citing internal data.

In subscribers, however, Hulu is still dwarfed by Netflix, which currently has more than 85 million.

In the last few years, Hulu has invested considerably in acquiring legacy titles like "Seinfeld" and the TGIF lineup. (The streaming service says its users watched more than 65 million hours of "Seinfeld" in 2017.)

Hulu also launched a live TV service in May.

"2017 was a momentous year for Hulu," Hulu CEO Randy Freer said in a statement. "The year ahead is going to be even bigger, as the company invests more in content -- live, library and original -- as well as technology and data to make Hulu the leading pay TV choice for consumers."

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