Hulu bags exclusive streaming rights to 'South Park'

Hulu announced that it has obtained exclusive streaming rights to all 244 episodes of South Park.

The online video provider has already started streaming the animated series on its free site. On Sept. 14, the show will move over exclusively to subscription-based Hulu Plus. 

The announcement was made Saturday in Los Angeles at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles, attended by Deadline Hollywood and myriad other publications.

Saturday was "Digital Day" for the TCA's bi-annual get-together, during which television reporters from every major newspaper, entertainment site, blog and parent's basement grill successive panels of top TV executives, writers and stars.

But outside of the stars and writers talking about TV characters as if they were real people, and politically sensitive TV reporters actively sizing each show for inclusion of minority and gay characters, TCA often reveals some interesting TV-business information. Here's some of what spilled out Saturday at Digital Day:

Much of the dialog at TCA centers around the creative challenges of making TV programming. For example, in the case of DirecTV's (NASDAQ: DTV) Saturday panel, TV writer Byron Balasco introduced TV writers to the Audience Channel's new martial-arts-themed series, Kingdom.

Speaking of the channel's demographics, however, Chris Long, senior VP of entertainment for DirecTV , said the Audience Network targets a 35-54-year-old-demo featuring "highly educated, high-income housholds," it attracts about 6.5 million viewers each week, and it ranks 38th among all basic cable networks.

Meanwhile, just like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), it was learned that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) won't let even the top creatives for its SVOD series in on how their shows are doing. Some are okay with that. 

"One of the interesting things about working for Amazon is it's kind of a black box," noted Gary Trudeau, the former syndicated newspaper cartoonist turned top producer of Amazon Prime's series, Alpha House. "We're just thrilled when they say the audience likes it and they want to put together another season. We're not really part of appraising the show … We just try to make the best show we can."

Asked by a TV writer why Amazon is so reclusive about its data, Joe Lewis, who heads comedy development for Amazon, responded, "It's because when we're talking to the creator, it's not the numbers we're talking about … We're talking about making something our customers love."

Speaking on a separate panel, Amazon Studios chief Roy Price dismissed the notion, often refrained at TCA among its constituents, that Amazon series creators and talent are getting paid significantly less to work for the SVOD platform.

"People are getting paid just as much," he said.

For more:
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related links:
DirecTV shoots original drama series 'Full Circle' for Audience Network
DirecTV streams Audience Network to iPad; pushes programmers for mobile video rights
Small, rural-focused RFD-TV becomes force amid merger approvals

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