NBC has set its first streaming deal for the original “Will & Grace” series, licensing eight seasons of the sitcom to Hulu with additional authenticated distribution on the NBC app and MVPD platforms. The deal comes just in time to help promote the return of the sitcom on NBC later this month.
The sitcom that yielded 194 episodes from 1998 to 2006 will be available for streaming on Sept. 21, one week before the revival opens on NBC. The pact also covers the new episodes, which will be available for streaming shortly after each episode’s broadcast premiere.
The new-model “Will & Grace” is set for a 16-episode run and has been renewed for a second season. The original creative team of Max Mutchnick and David Kohan are shepherding the revival along with director James Burrows. Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes have returned that revolves around the relationship between a gay man and a straight woman and their friends.
“As we gear up for the launch of the upcoming season premiere, I can’t think of a better way to reintroduce ‘Will & Grace’ to the cultural zeitgeist than by giving audiences the opportunity to watch this historic and hilarious series wherever and whenever they want,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “With its witty comebacks, pop-culture references and social commentary, ‘Will & Grace’ is one of the most binge-able comedies in television history, and I am certain fans both old and new will jump on this opportunity to devour it.”
The “Will & Grace” deal gives NBC a prime opportunity to generate a licensing windfall in the sale to Hulu and a promotional platform for the new series. The ability to refresh interest streaming distribution for vintage library titles is one of the drivers of TV’s mania for reboots and remakes.
Hulu has been aggressive in acquiring pop culture touchstones such as “Seinfeld,” “Golden Girls” and the original “Full House” to stock its SVOD library.
“There’s no question that ’Will & Grace’ has resonated with audiences since the series made its broadcast premiere. To be able to bring such an iconic show into the streaming universe for the first time ever is an opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” said Joel Stillerman, Hulu’s chief content officer. “This landmark deal will allow fans to re-watch their favorite moments ahead of the series premiere, as well as bring ‘Will & Grace’ and its cast of characters to a whole new audience.”.