After years of speculation, Hulu has finally done a deal with CBS, bringing shows from the one broadcast holdout into its content library. Beginning in January, CBS content will become available through Hulu Plus. But don’t get too excited: You won’t be able to watch Big Bang Theory through Hulu’s iPad app in January — it’ll just be a selection of older, so-called library content that Hulu is getting.
The deal is notable, as CBS was the one network missing from Hulu’s broadcast partners. That said, Hulu won’t be getting the same next-day access to broadcast programming that ABC, Fox, and NBC give it. Instead, the deal is for a bunch of off-air shows, and CBS.com will remain the place to find ad-supported, on-demand videos of the network’s current slate of programming.
Hulu will begin distributing more than 2,600 episodes of CBS’ library content — that is, shows that have already fallen out of the broadcast window. So stuff like Star Trek, I Love Lucy, and The Twilight Zone will become available, as well as some newer (but still canceled) series like Medium, Numb3rs, and CSI: Miami. As far as I can tell, the content involved is similar to the stuff Netflix got when it struck a non-exclusive deal with CBS early last year.
In addition to making that catalog content available to Hulu Plus subscribers, Hulu will also make a selection of shows available through its classic ad-supported website on a rolling basis. So certain Twilight Zone episodes may be available one month, while Star Trek shows are available the next month.
The CBS deal comes as Hulu faces a number of internal questions in the wake of buying out early investor Providence Equity Partners. That means that Hulu is controlled entirely by its parents and content partners Fox, Disney, and NBC Universal. That deal triggered a liquidity event, through which all employees with stock were able to cash out, leaving some key executives — like CEO Jason Kilar — little reason to stick around. There’s a lot to change ahead for Hulu in the next 12 months, so getting an unexpected content partner on board is positive news.
Founded in March 2007, Hulu is operated independently by a dedicated management team with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle and Beijing. NBC Universal, News Corporation, as of April 2009, Disney, Providence Equity Partners and the Hulu team share in the ownership stake of the company. Hulu is an online video service that offers a selection of hit shows, clips, movies and more at Hulu.com, numerous destination sites online, and through the ad-supported subscription service, Hulu Plus. Hulu...
CBS Corporation is a mass media company with constituent parts that reach back to the beginnings of the broadcast industry, as well as newer businesses that operate on the leading edge of the media industry. CBS, through its many and varied operations, combines broad reach with well-positioned local businesses, all of which provide it with an extensive distribution network by which it serves audiences and advertisers in all 50 states and key international markets. It has operations in several...