Hulu Scores Seinfeld and AMC Exclusive, New Features, Yada Yada

Hulu announced that it has licensed all 180 episodes of Seinfeld in an exclusive Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) streaming deal. The news was presented at the annual Hulu UpFront event for potential advertisers. Along with the Seinfeld deal, Hulu unveiled its new lineup of original content and another exclusive deal with AMC for future shows. Clearly, Hulu is upping its game to continue a trend in capturing the cable-cutter audience.

Jerry Seinfeld was onstage to address the audience of advertisers telling the group “That people will only watch television like this in the future is so obvious.” Not only will Seinfeld episodes be available for binge watching on Hulu, it will be streamed in the original network full-length version of the show instead of the truncated format seen on syndicated TV.

Along with the Seinfeld announcement, Hulu reported an exclusive SVOD deal for all future shows from AMC Studios— AMC, WE tv, BBC America, Sundance TV, and IFC. This includes Walking Dead and its spin-off Fear the Walking Dead. All of this follows a February announcement that Hulu now has exclusive rights to more than 300 episodes of CSI.

The Hulu UpFront event was also filled with news about Hulu original series. A new drama from J.J. Abrams about a time-traveling high school history teacher who tries to prevent the JFK assassination, 11/22/63, will be released in 2016 starring James Franco. Difficult People is an upcoming comedy series starring Amy Poeler, Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner. Popular Hulu originals will be streaming second seasons including Deadbeat, The Awesomes, Quick Draw, and East Los High.

Hulu continued to woo advertisers with a new feature called “in stream purchase.” Initially offered in a partnership with Pizza Hut, viewers will be able to order a pizza without ever leaving the video playback.

Despite showing non-skippable commercials to those who pay for the service, there are now more than 6 million Hulu Plus subscribers. While its a paltry number compared to the 60 million Netflix subscribers, it is a 50% increase over 2013 numbers. In the first 3 months of 2015, total streams have gone up 77% over the same period last year. Hulu Chief Executive Mike Hopkins proclaimed at Hulu Upfront, ”If you take away one thing, it's that 2015 is the year Hulu will break out.” 

Hulu started the year with a new look as the app dropped its “Queue,” “Shows You Watch” and “Favorites” lists. The the three items have been replaced with a single “watchlist.” Users can easily add shows and episodes to the watchlist from a Hulu app by tapping the “+” plus button and selecting “add to watchlist.”

This will also be the year that Hulu drops the “Plus.” There will be no more “Hulu Plus,” as the company feels branding becomes confusing with both Hulu and Hulu Plus. While the Plus will be eliminated in the name, there is no indication that there will be any difference in the services provided—presumably, it will simply be basic Hulu streaming or subscription Hulu. We’ll have to wait to see if anything changes in the subscription plans as well as see what new deals will come down in this “breakout year.”