CBS Inks Multi-Year Deal With Hulu

CSI-ACBS CEO Leslie Moonves, who has jabbed Hulu and suggested his company had little intention to make its content available on the service, continues to change course. One possible reason: Hulu’s long-term viability looks increasingly stronger — so why would CBS turn down a high-margin distribution option?

CBS has inked a deal to make library content of series such as “CSI: Miami” and “Numb3rs” available on Hulu Plus, the subscription version of the service. (CBS had previously gone that route in Japan.) Some content will also be available on the free Hulu service.

Moonves has said CBS did not join News Corp., NBCUniversal and Disney as co-owners of Hulu because it wanted to maintain control over its content. At one point, he pointed to reports that the three owners didn't appear happy with their investment.

CBS' latest Hulu deal does not seem to vary from its content-control aims. The multi-year deal is nonexclusive, so CBS can continue to reap huge fees for selling the same content to other online providers. It also doesn’t include full episodes of shows still on CBS. (Current Fox, NBC and ABC shows are there.)  

The CBS content covering 2,600 episodes becomes available in January. Clips from “Entertainment Tonight” will be available the day after on the free Hulu service and its pay sibling Hulu Plus.

Looking for ways to bolster the struggling CW, CBS had also been part of a deal to make that network's content available on Hulu.

There had been talk that the three media-company owners wanted to sell Hulu. Instead, they recently bought out 10% owner Providence Equity, a signal they may be redoubling efforts to make it succeed.

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