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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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