"Seinfeld," the most financially successful sitcom in TV history, just got a little more financially successful: Re-runs are going to Hulu, as part of what is believed to be the richest deal in streaming history for a so-called "off network" series.
Hulu just made the announcement, saying the series will arrive in June. Details were in the Wall Street Journal -- which broke the story -- on Tuesday: $180 million, in total. The WSJ reports Hulu will pay $700,000 per episode, which trumps the $500,000 Netflix paid for "Friends." However, there were 180 episodes of "Seinfeld, which indicates that either Hulu sweetened the deal to get this or in fact paid as much as $1 million per episode.
About Netflix: The dominant streaming service had been in negotiations with the various parties for more than a year, but clearly this ended up being a question of dollars and cents (or MORE dollars and cents).
Indeed, this is one of Hulu's biggest coups -- and the service did just nab streaming rights for all of AMC's future series, including "The Walking Dead" spin-off, which arrives this summer. The service launched in 2007, and instantly changed the world as we know it: An online site dedicated to the idea that you too can watch TV whenever or wherever you like.
At the time, the idea was revolutionary, or at least Hulu's execution was. The network-owned service was designed to capture those viewers who were drifting away from established television (or were pirating their shows), or who simply wanted greater control over their viewing habits.
There were rocky years, squabbles among partners, an attempt to sell, and then... Netflix, which -- once it worked out the technology bugs -- instantly catapulted to preeminence.
This "Seinfeld" deal is a nice step towards parity...
But enough about Hulu; what about Jerry? "Seinfeld" has been considered a key prize -- notably because there remain so many devotees, all of whom have mostly had to rely on local TV for their fix. The syndicated episodes were chopped to make room for commercials; Hulu says that the episodes will be restored to their original length.