As SVOD usage continues to erode pay-TV's traditionally robust viewership of "repeat" off-network programming, Hulu announced that it has acquired perhaps the biggest repeat in TV history: Seinfeld.
The streaming service acquired exclusive SVOD rights to all nine seasons of the Sony Pictures Television show, which ended production in 1998. According to various published reports, Hulu is paying around $700,000 per episode to acquire the so-called "Show About Nothing," putting the price tag for the full 180-installment run at around $126 million.
With Seinfeld's eponymous star, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, on stage Wednesday as Hulu introduced the deal at its Newfronts presentation in New York, the SVOD service also revealed that it now has 9 million subscribers, up 50 percent in one year.
As of 2013, Seinfeld had generated a record $3 billion for Sony through off-network syndication deals to broadcast stations, sales to cable networks including TNT, and distribution through DVD.
Ratings for cable repeat airings have inevitably ebbed as the show has aged, but the program had been resistant to an ongoing trend in the basic-cable programming universe--skyrocketing SVOD viewership's huge negative impact on repeat viewing on cable networks.
Seinfeld's move to Hulu follows Netflix's (NASDAQ: NFLX) purchase of Friends, another '90s sitcom stalwart, from Warner Bros. TV.
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