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It appears that one of the greatest sitcoms of all time is about to become the master of a different domain. An announcement from the streaming service Hulu heralded an exclusive deal that will see Seinfeld stream on the site. While it marks a reportedly expensive investment to acquire the legendary series, adding another competitive element to the company's catalog is good news for subscribers.
The news of Seinfeld heading to Hulu would come by way of an official announcement at this morning’s Hulu Upfront presentation in New York that saw star Jerry Seinfeld take the stage. The agreement between Hulu and property holders, Sony Pictures Television over the 1989-1998 TV series securing the exclusive SVOD rights is reportedly around $180 million or about a $1 million per each 22-minute episode. The entirety of the show’s nine seasons and 180 uncut episodes will be made available in June.
News of an exclusive deal for Seinfeld is hardly surprising, seeing as reports surfaced a few months back that Sony Pictures Television was shopping the show around to prospective platforms. The show had never truly left the entertainment ether as the entire run is on DVD, and it has been heavily syndicated over the last few decades--even before its run ended. However, the new deal with Hulu marks a major acquisition for the service in its clear quest to upgrade its competitive status with the industry giant, Netflix by buffing its back-catalog with a perennial favorite. Surely, Seinfeld represents one of the best possible choices to do that, adding a notable binge-watch-worthy bonanza.
From a perspective of prestige, the deal was clearly a win for Hulu. While there’s little doubt about the success that Seinfeld had and continues to enjoy, there may be some questions regarding the perceived value it will add to Hulu, given the apparently heavy $180 million price tag. After all, it is a show that has been off the air for 17 years at this point and has had decades to digest in the public consciousness. In a possibly poignant fact, Netflix, the titan of the SVOD business ultimately passed on this acquisition, instead opting for a likely less-expensive deal to secure Friends. However, Netflix has also focused its attention on to its burgeoning lineup of exclusive shows like Daredevil, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and the Seinfeld deal might be problematically looking to the past like a pretentious puffy shirt.
However, it could also be the case that a major catalogue investment on the level of Seinfeld could help bolster a perception of Hulu as being a Festivus-observing brand where great comedies thrive. This is an aspect that could set up the service as a platform for potential exclusive shows to thrive in the future. In fact, catalogue-building has been a benchmark of the SVOD business model, which has proved quite vital for Netflix in laying the groundwork for that company's own thriving exclusive brand of shows. Thus, it could be the case that for a price tag that could buy a whole lot of medical grade Junior Mints, Seinfeld might end up putting Hulu on the map.