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Hulu Gets Exclusive Rights to 'Empire,' Among Other New Programs

23 Mar, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

SVOD service maintains original program output pace with Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video

Hulu March 23 announced licensing rights to “The Way,” about a family at the center of a controversial faith–based movement struggling with relationships, marriage and power. The 10-episode series goes into production this summer.

“The Way” comes to Hulu from Universal Television and marks Emmy Award-winning director Jason Katims and writer-creator Jessica Goldberg’s first non-network television series and first to premiere on a streaming service.

Other original Hulu Plus programing includes: “11/22/63,” from Stephen King and J.J. Abrams, starring James Franco; comedy series “Difficult People,” produced by Amy Poehler with stars Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner; “Casual,” a comedy series from Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman; and the first long-form project from Freddie Wong and the RocketJump team.

“Katims has written and produced some of the most compelling dramas and we cannot wait to bring this provocative take on a family in a controversial, dangerous and thrilling world to Hulu,” Beatrice Springborn, head of originals, wrote in a post.

The series underscores Hulu co-owners 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Co., and NBC Universal's commitment to underwriting original episodic content. Hulu's corporate owners have pledged about $700 million in content spending.

Indeed, Hulu March 19 inked a new deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution to become the exclusive SVOD home to Fox’s hip-hop music drama “Empire,” from Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious).

“Empire” stars Terence Howard as a former drug dealer turned CEO of family-owned Empire Entertainment, a fictional hip-hop music company. His ex-wife is played by Taraji P. Henson.

The freshman series' final episode March 18 drew 21.1 million viewers — the highest live tally for a new series since “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2005.

The "Empire" soundtrack hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart, marking the first time a TV soundtrack has opened at the top since 2010. Each episode includes music featuring guest vocalists Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Courtney Love and Estelle, among others.

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