In its battle with Netflix and Amazon for streaming video marketshare, Hulu today announced its first-ever licensing agreement with Turner Broadcasting, which sees the streaming video service gaining exclusive subscription rights to several shows’ past seasons from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TNT and TBS, in addition to select future programs airing “in the coming years.” The deal was notable not only for the shows’ exclusivity to Hulu, which indicates an aggressive bid on the Hulu’s part, but also because it represents the first time some of the programming has been made available to stream on demand at all.
According to the official announcement, Hulu gained the exclusive rights to prior seasons of animated shows including “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Ben 10,” “Robot Chicken,” “The Venture Bros.,” “Adventure Time” and “Regular Show,” in addition to other Adult Swim and Cartoon Network Classics. And it has acquired the past seasons of TNT’s “The Last Ship” and “Murder in the First,” as well as TBS’s upcoming series “Angie Tribeca,” which will stream exclusively on Hulu after its full-season run.
“This is a great opportunity to grow the reach of the networks’ original programming and complements our strategy of utilizing multiple platforms – including SVOD – to drive sampling, introduce new viewers to our content and give current fans the opportunity to explore and enjoy Turner’s new and existing series in a branded environment,” said David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting in a statement.
The deal is not the first high-profile exclusive agreement the streaming service has scored in recent months – in December, it signed a “landmark” agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution for FX Networks’ Original Series Produced by FX Productions. That pact made Hulu the exclusive subscription video-on-demand home to the largest selection of FX Networks content.
Also notable regarding the new Turner deal is its potential to expand Hulu’s lineup of programming aimed at children and families – something both Netflix and Amazon have been focused on as their services grow. Netflix this week announced it was rebooting the classic sitcom “Full House” as “Fuller House” to compliment its expanding family-friendly lineup, and Amazon has been greenlighting a number of its own original kids’ shows.
Hulu says that all its Cartoon Network series will be made available to stream ad-free in its Hulu Kids section. And al the new titles from Turner will arrive on May 1st, with more to come in time.
While all three of the top streaming services, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, are investing in producing their own original series, competition for network content remains fierce as they each try to grow their individual subscriber bases. Hulu in particular needs deals like these to attract more paying customers, as the smallest of the major services when it comes to paid subscribers. Its premium tier Hulu Plus has over 6 million customers, as of its last report, compared with Netflix’s 60 million+ subscribers, and Amazon Prime’s (therefore Prime Instant Video)’s 40 to 50 million members.