This is what A+E Networks’ push to own their scripted originals was about. During the TCA panel for the Lifetime drama UnReal, it was announced that Hulu has acquired the exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to the show. UnReal was the first scripted series to come out of A+E Networks’ A+E Studios and the first fully owned by the Lifetime parent company. Controlling SVOD rights has become crucial for cable networks as linear ratings have been eroding, making the economics of high-end drama series challenging. Meanwhile, serialized dramas have become a valuable commodity for streaming platforms, with SVOD rights acquisitions providing a key revenue stream for producing studios that helps offset lower network license fees due to softer ratings. UnReal will be available on Hulu on February 3rd and future seasons of the series will become available to stream on Hulu following their initial season run on Lifetime.
UnREAL, which has been well received by critics, was not a strong ratings performer but has done well in binge viewing, both on TV and on line, which is attractive to SVOD operators. The series is executive produced by co-creators Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, along with Carol Barbee, Sally DeSipio, Robert M. Sertner and Stacy Rukeyser.