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Hulu Scores 'CSI' Coup

19 Feb, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Longtime 'CSI' cast members George Eads and Eric Szmanda

Deal marks the first time 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' has ever been licensed to a SVOD service

Hulu Feb. 19 announced it acquired exclusive subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) rights to all previous seasons of CBS’ critically acclaimed crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” beginning in April.

Hulu will also soon become the exclusive SVOD home to all previous seasons of the CBS crime drama “Elementary.”

The deal marks the first time “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” has ever been licensed to a SVOD service. Financial terms of the agreement, which includes 300 episodes, all complete past seasons, and full libraries of past seasons of the 15-year-old show ahead of future series premieres, was not disclosed.

“CSI,” which is the second-longest-running scripted primetime TV series currently on the air, stars long-running cast members George Eads, David Berman, Wallace Langham, Eric Szmanda, Jorja Fox, William Peterson and Robert David Hall, in addition to current headliners Elizabeth Shue and Ted Danson.

The pact does not include “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” — both shows canceled in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

“This deal not only represents a huge growth in our offering of premium content, but it also represents an expansion in our partnership with CBS,” Craig Erwich, SVP and head of content for Hulu, said in a statement.

Indeed, Hulu Plus, with about 6 million subscribers, lags significantly behind Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in subs.

Co-owned by The Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast, Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch recently said the corporate partners were united in promoting Hulu (including infusing $700 million in funding) — a reality he said was vital in marketing a serious rival to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” joins more than 5,300 library episodes of CBS programming added to Hulu last year in an expanded licensing deal with the network. In separate deals, Hulu acquired non-exclusive subscription streaming rights to previous seasons of “The Good Wife” and the police procedural “Blue Bloods.”

“This agreement and previous deals with our partners at Hulu further validates how well CBS procedural dramas perform on subscription services. And, at a time when CBS is getting ready to premiere the next generation of the “CSI” franchise with “CSI: Cyber,” it’s very exciting to make … the show that started it all to Hulu subscribers,” Scott Koondel, chief corporate content licensing officer for CBS, said in a statement.

“CSI: Cyber,” which stars Peter MacNicol, Patricia Arquette and Charley Koontz, launches March 4.

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