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Hulu Lands Massive Streaming Deal With FX

18 Dec, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Looks like 21st Century Fox Inc. subsidiaries are taking their boss Rupert Murdoch’s warnings to heart about combating the Netflix juggernaut.

Hulu Dec. 18 announced a multiyear deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution for the exclusive subscription streaming rights to new and upcoming FX and FXX primetime comedy, drama and miniseries produced or co-produced by FX Productions.

The deal will make Hulu Plus home to the largest selection of FX Networks content available through tablets, smartphones, gaming platforms and other Internet-connected devices.

Current-season FX Networks series will remain available via the FXNow app to authenticated subscribers through their MVPD provider.

Hulu is co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., Fox and Comcast.

The first seasons of FX and FXX primetime shows “Tyrant,” “The Strain,” “Married” and “You’re the Worst” — all of which debuted in 2014 — will be exclusively on Hulu Plus in advance of their second-season premieres. Hulu also has exclusive SVOD rights to subsequent seasons of those shows.

“FX Productions shares the same commitment to creating and distributing distinctive, high-quality programming that we do here at Hulu,” Craig Erwich, SVP and head of content for Hulu, said in a statement.

Speaking Oct. 29 at an industry confab, 83-year-old Murdoch said rapid expansion and growth of subscription streaming services, led by Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, have shaken up the TV industry on a global scale — and need to be countered.

Murdoch contends Hulu Plus needs to put the pedal to the metal with content offerings, something the service — under new CEO Mike Hopkins — is doing.

“We’ve had a difficult partnership [with Hulu’s co-owners]. Now I think we’re all on the same page and we’re going to drive [Hulu] as hard and as fast as we can,” Murdoch said. “As an industry, we need a competitor, a serious competitor to Netflix and Amazon.”

Indeed, Hulu re-upped a streaming agreement with Viacom for programing from Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, TV Land, Spike, BET and Logo TV. It is also working with director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno) for “Casual,” a 10-episode, half-hour comedy series that follows the story of a dysfunctional family with a bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister.

Perhaps Hulu’s biggest content coup prior to FX was securing exclusive streaming rights to all 17 seasons of “South Park,” in addition to next-day episode access to the current 18th season.

Future FX Networks’ series exclusive to Hulu include comedy series “Man Seeking Woman,” starring Jay Baruchel (series premieres Jan. 14 on FXX); comedy series “The Comedians,” starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad (series premieres spring 2015); “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” starring Denis Leary and John Corbett; period drama series “Taboo,” starring Tom Hardy from executive producer Ridley Scott; and comedy series “Baskets,” starring Zach Galifianakis, produced by Louis C.K. and Galifianakis (debuts 2016). 

In addition to FX Networks’ original series, Hulu Plus also gets exclusive rights to Fox’s upcoming event series, “Wayward Pines,” from director M. Night Shyamalan. The series stars Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo, and premiers May 14 on Fox.

"It will not only expand the audience reach for much of the terrific FX and FXX programming, but does so in a way that represents how traditional TV and emerging platforms, such as Hulu, can work together and leverage their respective strengths, to satisfy the ever-changing viewing habits of the audience,” said Gina Brogi, EVP of worldwide pay-TV and SVOD at 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.


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