The agreement comes two weeks after CW cut a similar deal with Netflix. This one will provide CW programming both to the free Hulu service as well as the subscription Hulu Plus. It means that by year end, Hulu will have current-season episodes of shows from ABC, CW, Fox, NBC and Univision. Hulu SVP Andy Forssell says in a blog post that Hulu Plus will be “the only online subscription service to offer next-day access to the most recent five current primetime episodes, in HD” via broadband. Users of the free service “will be able to watch five episodes of current season programming eight days after airing.”
Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker says that the Hulu deal will generate a lot less cash for CBS — which co-owns CW with Time Warner — than it will see from Netflix. She estimates the new agreement will deliver about a penny a share annually which she says “is not financially material.” (She said CBS might see as much as 5 cents a share from Netflix.) Hulu will have fewer shows, and only five episodes at a time; Netflix has exclusive access to full seasons of shows that aren’t in season. Still, she adds, “this is another way that CW can approach breakeven and ultimately reach profitability.”
Here’s the release:
(October 28, 2011) –The CW Television Network, a joint venture of CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment, announced today a five-year licensing agreement with Hulu for the rights to stream in-season episodes of The CW’s programming on the Hulu Plus subscription service and the free, ad-supported Hulu service.
With this agreement, Hulu Plus will be the only online subscription service to carry in-season episodes of The CW’s drama and reality series, with the five most recent episodes of each show available to subscribers the next day after broadcast. Users of the free, ad-supported Hulu service will be able to watch five episodes of current season programming eight days after airing on The CW.
Available later this year, programming on Hulu and Hulu Plus will begin with the nine series on The CW’s Fall 2011 schedule, including new series “Ringer,” “Hart of Dixie” and “The Secret Circle,” as well as returning hits “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “Supernatural,” “Nikita,” “90210” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
“Our new arrangement with Hulu only affirms the incredible value of The CW’s series, as well as amplifying the immense power of the broadcast network model,” said Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW. “As we increase the amount of year round original programming on The CW, this deal provides our shows with greater exposure on a new platform, helping build even more awareness that will drive viewers back to the network and its affiliates. We see this as a win for everyone involved, the network, the stations, Hulu and ultimately, the viewers.”
“The CW programming is a great example of the kind of in-season content we want to make available on our service – high-quality, engaging, serialized shows that fans passionately love,” said Andy Forssell, SVP of Content for Hulu. “Making these shows available on Hulu and Hulu Plus will allow new and existing fans to get their fix of The CW’s great shows anytime and anywhere.”
The new agreement with Hulu delivers more ways for viewers to catch up with The CW’s serialized dramas and reality series, and provides the network with valuable off-air promotion and marketing to grow its brand, as well as increase awareness for its series. The CW’s content can also be made available online through authenticated cable providers.
The CW, which last year introduced an innovative digital convergence strategy for broadcast and online ad sales, will continue to present its programming on cwtv.com with a full complement of advertising, prior to streaming on the free Hulu service.