CW Strikes 5-Year Licensing Deal With Hulu

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. (more…)

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