Hulu Sets Mammoth ‘Seinfeld’ Licensing Deal


UPDATE: In another sign that Hulu is stepping up its game, the digital video giant has landed the SVOD rights to “Seinfeld,” cutting a deal with Sony Pictures TV for all 180 episodes of the enduring NBC comedy.

The deal is said to be valued at around $875,000 an episode, which translates to a nearly $160 million windfall to be split by distributor Sony TV, Time Warner’s Castle Rock and “Seinfeld” profit participants, including star/co-creator Jerry Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David. The pact is expected to be announced at Hulu’s upfront presentation on Wednesday. The series will be available on Hulu starting in June. The license term is believed to be at least five years.

Sony TV, which has long controlled distribution rights to the series on behalf of original producer Castle Rock TV, has been shopping the property for its first SVOD licensing pact for the past few months. A limited number of “Seinfeld” reruns have been available online via Sony TV’s ad-supported Crackle video platform, but the Hulu pact marks the first time the series will be available in its entirety in the new era of binge-viewing.

“Seinfeld’s” move to Hulu follows Netflix’s purchase last year of the library rights to Warner Bros. TV’s “Friends,” another series from the heyday of “Must-See TV” NBC comedies. The show is believed to have performed well for Netflix.

The big bucks that Netflix paid for “Friends” and Hulu’s outlay for “Seinfeld” indicate that SVOD players are expanding their menus beyond the serialized off-network dramas that built Netflix and Hulu into Internet powerhouses. Hulu also cut a rich deal in February with CBS TV Distribution for more than 300 episodes and counting of the Eye’s “CSI,” the epitome of contemporary procedural dramas.

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  1. Jimmy says:

    I scratch my head every time I see a complaint about commercials on Hulu. The way I look at it, I am getting an up to date cable TV service for $8 a month. In case all of you forgot, cable TV also has ads, and costs 4-6 times more then Hulu does. Sure Netflix doesn’t have ads, but it also doesn’t have up to date movies or major network TV shows. With an OTA antenna, high speed internet and Hulu, I’m saving $80 a month on my cable bill and I’m able to watch 99% of the shows that I used to watch when I had cable TV. What is there to complain about?

  2. Marc Nichol says:

    will they still be on TBS, and some of my local channels?

  3. I watch 4 episodes a day on tbs never get tired f them

  4. Greg says:

    One of the most overrated TV shows in the history of television.

  5. Gosh, maybe now Jerry can afford to send his kids to college.

  6. Todd says:

    180 million for a show that everyone has seen a million times. Still on TV about a hundred times a day in syndication. Huge waste of $$$. Die hard fans have the DVDs already.

    Hulu needs better original content, not reruns. Imagine the type of show 180 million dollars could have bought them….

  7. MyName IsNotYourBusiness says:

    @Aaron – We did the same thing. Paid for Hulu Plus for almost 3 years and realized I could get all the same content on each of the network apps/websites and I dropped Hulu as fast as I could – If I’m going to sit through commercials, I can do it for free. Netflix+HBONow is the perfect combination. Hulu can take their commercials and shove it – I hope Hulu realizes this is going to be a disaster for them $180Mil is a lot of money to make up.

  8. Aaron says:

    I have Netflix and HULU and I have to tell you, if you think ADs were bad before wait until this comes to HULU. It is literally unwatchable. I am about to dump this service because there is no way to skip the ads, You are really better off just downloading the Network apps CBS, etc. Netflix on the other hand, has great original programming and no ads. I may pickup the HBO to GO.

    • Jimmy says:

      This only works if you’re a cable subscriber. If you’re a code cutter like myself, then those network apps you speak of will be unwatchable. I personally don’t mind the ads. They are a heck of a lot shorter then the ads on live TV.

  9. MH says:

    You’re all missing the point. What this ultimately means is high quality webrips of Seinfeld. Up until now the only high quality Seinfeld you could pirate were the TBS versions that were cluttered with ads and waterwarks, and sped up from the originals to fit in more ads.

    It doesn’t matter that Hulu or Netflix or whoever is getting the rights to it. All that matters is that Sony is finally releasing them.

    • Drpeppershaker says:

      The dvds have been out for decades.

      Why would anyone want Web rips when they already have dvd rips?

      • TBS has been playing direct from the remasters. The DVD’s were made from the remasters but basically then downcoverted to 480 then on your HD TV gets upconverted back to 720 or 1080. So picture quality on Hulu Plus will be much better than an upconverted DVD.

  10. capsaicinone says:

    Epic FAIL. A service I have to pay for to unlock content….that still has commercials. That’s the kind of stupid that only a cable executive could come up with.

  11. Stacy says:

    It was on crackle for free and syndicated on tv for years. I feel they should have bought a new program instead of investing in something from 20 years ago. If hulu wants to become TV land then great otherwise I think this was a stuuuuupid move. I do like Seinfeld though. I hope they prove me wrong because everytime I google hulu it says they are in financial straits.

  12. Sam Smith says:

    Hulu should get rid of these commercials then they will get more subscribers. I dont mind hulu but I cant stand commercials so I got rid of it. I love Seinfeld but this does not mean I will be a subscriber again.

  13. David K says:

    great, that means stupid commercials, I was really hoping for Netflix or Amazon

  14. bettheduck says:

    Rob Reiner used to be a participant in CastleRock..he gets some of this

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