Hulu is stepping up its game in 2016, signing a multi-year licensing deal with Sony. The new pact will amp up the streaming service’s library, adding full seasons of TV series and films from Sony to Hulu.
The deal was announced Saturday by Craig Erwich, senior vice president and head of content for Hulu, at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.
Among the content heading to Hulu is all episodes of “Dawson’s Creek,” “Party of Five,” “The Shield” and “Damages.” On the film side, flicks from the Sony archives include “Jerry Maguire,” “Midnight in Paris” and “My Best Friends Wedding.”
Prior to the deal being announced, Hulu made all episodes of fan-favorite sitcom “Happy Endings” available to subscribers, which is co-produced by Sony.
Last year, the company struck a major licensing deal with Sony Pictures TV to acquire all seasons of “Seinfeld,” which was reportedly valued at nearly $160 million with each episode worth around $875,000.
The Sony partnership marks another step in Hulu’s positive momentum and growth, as the service looks to not only jam-pack its library, but also enhance its slate of original content, following in the footsteps of Netflix.
With “Seinfeld” and now “Dawson’s Creek,” “Party of Five” and more, Hulu is strategically pushing the nostalgia trend to woo subscribers. At TCA, press members received fanny packs full of ’80s and ’90s swag, including wrist slappers, ring pops and mood rings to promote the nostalgic programming heading to the platform under the Sony deal.
— Elizabeth Wagmeister (@EWagmeister) January 9, 2016
Also at TCA, Hulu organized a panel with three TV creators whose years-old shows have found new audiences with streaming homes — “Beverly Hills, 90210” creator Darren Star, “Veronica Mars” creator Rob Thomas and “CSI” creator Anthony Zuiker.
“Taking stuff that’s decades old and putting it on Hulu just legitimizes it and makes it cool again,” Zuiker said. Star agreed, saying, “I think we’re all here because we’re excited that new audiences are seeing our show. In the case of ‘Beverly Hills, 90210,’ it’s still touching a different generation of teenagers.”
Asked by a reporter about the financial model of streaming libraries versus the sought-after money maker known as syndication, all three producers opted not to directly answer the question, insisting that their main goal is to create quality content.
“There are a lot of shows that may not have had a home,” Star said, applauding the streaming model for making old shows new again.
Thomas chimed in on the same note, saying, “How little I know about how the economics of the business works — I have an agent who I hope protects me and deals with that — but my focus is almost entirely on making a show that I’m proud of…and hoping that an audience sees it. I don’t think I’m up to speed on how it may be affecting our back-end.”
Zuiker continued to speak on topic, turning the focus from money to creativity: “The bottom line is were all championing and we all love television — whether it’s television on television or television on Hulu or on a mobile phone — we all love television. In the end, we’re out to make the best product for television.”
Back to the broader conversation of the nostalgic reboot trend, Thomas said what everyone’s been thinking through the past few development cycles, which have resulted in the revivals of “X-Files,” “Full House” and “Twin Peaks” to name a few. Thomas stated: “I think that every writer knows it is a little bit more difficult to get a completely original idea on the air.”