Hulu has made another aggressive move to expand the content selection on its streaming service with the announcement today that is has acquired the exclusive streaming rights to “Seinfeld” from Sony Pictures TV, a deal reportedly valued at $180 million for all 180 episodes of the popular NBC comedy. The company also scored a deal with AMC Networks, and revealed its new line-up of originals.
The Seinfeld payout will be split between Sony TV, Time Warner’s Castle Rock and other participants, including star Jerry Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David.
This is the first time that Seinfeld has been made available to stream on-demand via a service like Hulu. (A limited number of episodes were previously available on Crackle, but never the full series.)
The multi-year agreement gives Hulu the exclusive streaming rights to the entire 180 episodes, which will become available to Hulu subscribers starting this June.
This deal and others were announced on stage today at the Hulu Upfront Presentation in New York by Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins; Head of Advertising Sales, Peter Naylor; and SVP Head of Content, Craig Erwich.
Hulu also said today it has grown its subscriber base to nearly 9 million since its launch seven years ago, which includes a 50 percent increase in subscribers since just last year. Netflix, for comparison purposes, has roughly 60 million subscribers worldwide. Hulu’s viewers are streaming more than ever, too – within the first 90 days of 2015, streams increased by 77 percent, and viewers watched over 700 million hours of premium content on the service.
On average, each Hulu viewer is watching at least 30 percent more content, the company found.
“Every category of measurement including hours watched and hours streamed is up dramatically year over year,”said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, in a statement. “With additional marketing spend, bigger content acquisitions and a new slate of premium originals, the Hulu drumbeat will only continue to grow louder and louder.”
The service is also trying to find new ways to reach subscribers. For example, it’s now allowing pay TV providers like Cablevision to resell its service. That partnership will allow the cable company to offer Hulu not only to its cable customers, but also to cord cutters who only pay for broadband.
The Seinfeld win was only one of several announcements Hulu revealed today. The service also said it signed a multi-year agreement with AMC that gives it streaming rights to future programming from AMC Networks. This includes all the episodes of the forthcoming “The Walking Dead” spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” but Hulu didn’t announce other titles at this time.
However, the agreement should allow it to access other content under AMC Networks, including IFC, BBC America, Sundance TV, WE tv, and IFC Films. (Hulu did say that it will become the streaming home for “a significant number” of movies from IFC Films.)
These new deals follow another recent announcement by Hulu, when it revealed its first-ever licensing agreement with Turner Broadcasting. That sees the streaming video service gaining exclusive subscription rights to several shows’ past seasons from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TNT and TBS, in addition to select future programs. Hulu has also recently gained the rights to a number of top shows, including “CSI” (CBS) and “Empire” (FOX), as well as select shows from FX Networks, Bravo, Discover and E!. It recently renewed and expanded its deal with Viacom, too.
Also at the Hulu Upfronts, the network released details regarding its new Originals, a slate of five shows debuting this year and in 2016, including both dramas, comedies and a mini-series, “11/22/63,” based on a novel by Stephen King.
With the latest set of announcements, it’s clear that Hulu is attempting to capitalize on its growing traction in the streaming space, and plans to more seriously compete with rivals Netflix and Amazon for content deals going forward.
Additionally, Hulu CEO Hopkins said that the “Plus” brand, which refers to Hulu’s premium tier, will be retired this year in order to unify the company’s marketing efforts. On that front, Hulu announced a new ad solution for marketers called the “custom integrated commercial,” which are 30-second custom “brand stories” that will appear on the service. And over the next few years, Hulu will expand into Programmatic Ad Buying which will allow advertisers to reach the right viewer at the right time with the right ad, said Hulu.