Hulu Grabs 'Empire' Exclusive Streaming-Video Rights

The entire first season of Fox hit drama “Empire” is now on Hulu, under a pact with Twentieth Century Fox Television giving the Internet TV site exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to the show.

The deal makes Hulu Plus the exclusive SVOD home to “Empire,” which follows the tumultuous events of a family dynasty in the music biz. Under the multiyear pact, all future episodes of “Empire” will be available on Hulu Plus one day after broadcast on Fox.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But “Empire” surely sold into the SVOD market for a pretty penny, given its high profile and ratings success. Among TV shows, the biggest subscription VOD licensing deals recently have come in just under $2 million per episode, which is what Netflix paid for NBC’s “Blacklist” and Fox’s “Gotham.”

“Empire” has been a ratings smash for Fox, as the only primetime broadcast series this season that has grown week-over-week in viewers over the past 10 weeks — a feat not seen in more than two decades. The 12-episode series concluded its season-one run Wednesday on Fox.

The buzzy primetime soap stars Terrence Howard (“Crash,” “Hustle & Flow”) and Taraji P. Henson (“No Good Deed,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). Each episode includes music by producer Timbaland. The series was created by Lee Daniels (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Precious”) and Danny Strong (“Game Change,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”) and is exec produced by Daniels, Strong and Brian Grazer (“A Beautiful Mind,” “24”), along with showrunner Ilene Chaiken and Francie Calfo.

The five most recent episodes of “Empire” have been available for free on Hulu.com, but those will roll off in the next few weeks, and the full season will be exclusively available on the $7.99-per-month Hulu Plus service.

“‘Empire’s’ storylines and music continue to dominate the popular culture conversation each week,” said Craig Erwich, senior VP and head of content for Hulu. “Since its premiere, the series has remained one of the top shows on Hulu, and we are ecstatic to be the exclusive streaming home to the biggest show of the year.”

Hulu is owned by 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and Disney — but execs from all parties insist that Hulu doesn’t get favorable treatment in SVOD licensing deals with its parent companies.

For Hulu, the “Empire” score follows a string of exclusive pacts bringing several TV shows and original series to the company’s SVOD platform. Those include deals with CBS for rights to 14 seasons (and counting) of the Eye’s popular procedural drama “CSI”; with MGM for FX’s acclaimed “Fargo” miniseries; with FX for several current and future FX and FXX primetime shows, including Guillermo del Toro’s thriller “The Strain”; and with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Prods. and Warner Bros. TV for an adaptation of Stephen King’s “11/22/63,” starring James Franco.

“Empire” is produced by Imagine Television in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television.

“Hulu is the perfect home for this extraordinary series,” Gina Brogi, exec VP of worldwide pay television and SVOD for Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution. “As interest in the show continues to explode, having a place for people to watch it from the beginning is extremely important to viewers and fans.”

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