'Cosby Show,' 3rd Rock,' among shows available to subscribers

Hulu has struck a deal with Carsey Werner TV Distribution to license 11 vintage sitcoms, including “The Cosby Show” and “3rd Rock From the Sun,” for its subscription service, Hulu Plus.

The cache of 580 episodes, with programming from the past three decades, was quietly added to the service last week. While Carsey Werner has one of the biggest sitcom libraries of any indie, the Hulu pact does not include some of its most prominent titles, including “Roseanne,” “That ’70s Show” and “Grace Under Fire.”

The other series in the deal, confirmed Tuesday by a Hulu rep, are “Grounded for Life,” “Men Behaving Badly” and a handful of titles that had short runs in primetime: “That ’80s Show,” “The Tracy Morgan Show,” “Normal, Ohio,” “Whoopi,” “Damon,” “Game Over” and “Davis Rules.”

Pact comes one year after Hulu launched its subscription service, which gives its 1 million-plus subscribers a deeper trove of programming than its ad-supported counterpart Hulu.com for $7.99 per month.

Carsey Werner deal caps a period of aggressive content expansion for Hulu Plus, which saw its content volume increase more than 100% in the third quarter vs. the same period the previous year.

Hulu Plus has become an increasingly integral piece of the venture, especially since joint owners News Corp., NBCUniversal, Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners decided last month to take Hulu off the auction block.

Hulu’s last big TV deal for content from the CW gave Hulu Plus subs access to next-day programming from the net’s primetime schedule. In addition, Hulu.com saw its free offerings curtailed when Fox decided to reserve next-day access to its programs to either Hulu Plus subs or authenticated subs to select multichannel providers including Dish Network.

In a blog post last month, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar estimated that the subscription service will drive more than half of the company’s revenue over the next year.

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