Nashville

The battle for Internet VOD rights rages on: Hulu cut a deal for ABC’s “Nashville” musical primetime soap to make the show’s full seasons available exclusively to Hulu Plus subscribers.

Under Hulu’s multiyear licensing pact with with the Disney/ABC Television Group, Hulu Plus members will have access to all prior seasons of the series upon the start of the subsequent season. Season 1 of “Nashville” comprising 21 episodes is available to subs starting Friday.

Disney is one of Hulu’s parent companies, along with Comcast’s NBCUniversal and 21st Century Fox. But Hulu so far has not seemed to enjoy preferential treatment in jockeying for subscription VOD rights against the likes of Netflix and Amazon.

Last month, ABC began restricting next-day access to new episodes of TV shows online. Now, only subscribers of participating pay-TV affiliates and Hulu Plus members have access to the latest content, with episodes becoming available free to anyone on ABC.com and Hulu.com after one week.

SEE ALSO: ABC to Limit New Episodes Online to Paying Subs for One Week

Hulu is counting on exclusive deals for TV shows like “Nashville” and CBS’s “Elementary” — as well as a growing lineup of original shows — to drive users to sign up for the $7.99-per-month Hulu Plus service. In addition to certain exclusive and expanded content not available on the free Hulu.com, Hulu Plus allows access to TV shows and movies on multiple devices. Hulu Plus now has more than 5 million users, but the pace of the SVOD service’s growth slowed in 2013.

“Nashville” is currently in its second season, airing Wednesday nights on ABC. Drama series stars Connie Britton as music legend Rayna Jaymes, the “Queen of Country” whose grip on the throne is slipping. Hayden Panettiere also stars as sassy up-and-comer Juliette Barnes who trails trouble in her wake.

The series is produced by Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment. Dee Johnson, R.J. Cutler, Callie Khouri and Steve Buchanan are exec producers of “Nashville.”

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