Hulu has snared more than 500 episodes of Disney fare from cable networks Disney Junior, Disney Channel and Disney XD, the latest maneuver in an ongoing battle among subscription-video-on-demand players to corner the market on younger viewers.
A new licensing agreement struck with Disney-ABC Television Group will give Hulu right to stream more than 20 original movies from Disney-ABC Television along with seven series, including all past season episodes of the Disney Channel’s popular comedy “K.C. Undercover” (pictured, above), Disney XD’s “Gravity Falls” and Disney Junior’s “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.”
Complete previous seasons of all aforementioned series will be accessible to stream on Hulu later in June. Subsequent seasons will be made available to Hulu subscribers in their entirety after the last episode of each season airs.
The pact builds upon one struck in March of last year that granted Hulu streaming rights to the Disney Junior series “Doc McStuffins” and follows an agreement made in March of this year with NBCUniversal Television and New Media Distribution for exclusive access for all seasons of the PBS Kids staple “Curious George.” Adding more kid-appeal to Hulu’s portfolio of programs is “definitely a focus,” said Lisa Holme, Hulu’s vice president of content acquisition. “They don’t have the concept of ‘what do you mean I can only watch this at this time of day,'” she said in an interview. “We have to satisfy the habits of the new generation.”
The industry’s big subscription-video-on-demand services are working furiously to build a wealth of kid-focused options into their programming lineups. Netflix, which produces several originals and features programming from PBS Kids and Dreamworks Animation, among others, on Thursday unveiled a new spate of programs for 2016, 2o17 and 2018 that include a series based on the popular Anne Dewdney children’s book series “Llama Llama” as well as an animated series based on the “Spy Kids” movie franchise. Amazon has launched series like “Tumble Leaf” and “Wishenpoof” that have won critical plaudits, and has readied a pilot that would reboot the old Sid & Marty Krofft series “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.
The new Hulu pact with Disney also includes rights to the Disney XD series “Star vs. The Forces of Evil,” the Disney Channel classics “Dog with a Blog” and “Austin & Ally,” and Disney Junior’s “Henry Hugglemonster.” Terms of the pact were not disclosed, but Hulu said it represents “the largest kids programming deal made between the two companies to date.” The previous deal with Disney also gave Hulu the rights to Disney Junior ‘s “Bunnytown” and “Handy Manny.”
Disney is part owner of Hulu, along with 21st Century Fox and NBCUniversal, but the streaming service must compete with rivals for its programming, said Holme. “It’s a free market, and they can certainly sell their shows to any of several buyers,” she said, noting that Disney has deals in place with Netflix.
Hulu is mulling the idea of developing original kids’ series, she said. “We are considering it. There are no specific plans or timelines for that yet. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to license so much proven and fantastic kids’ programming,” Holme said. “We’ve been able to fill so much of that content through licensing. We will certainly continue to look at and consider doing original programming, but there are no specific plans yet.”