Gearing up for the future -- and perhaps an IPO -- Hulu just announced a five-year content licensing agreement with the CW Television Network.
Per the deal, Hulu Plus will soon become the only online subscription service allowed to carry in-season episodes of The CW’s drama and reality series, with the five most recent episodes of each show available to subscribers the next day after broadcast.
in addition, users of the free, ad-supported Hulu service will be able to watch five episodes of current-season programming eight days after airing on The CW.
Expected to debut before the end of the year, programming on Hulu and Hulu Plus will begin with the nine series on The CW’s fall 2011 schedule, including new series “Ringer,” “Hart of Dixie” and “The Secret Circle,” as well as returning series like “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “Supernatural,” “Nikita,” “90210” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
A joint venture of CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment, the CW introduced a new digital convergence strategy last year for broadcast and online ad sales.
“As we increase the amount of year-round original programming on The CW, this deal provides our shows with greater exposure on a new platform, helping build even more awareness that will drive viewers back to the network and its affiliates,” said Mark Pedowitz, CW president.
Going forward, Pedowitz added, the network plans to continue presenting its programming on CWTV.com with a full slate of advertising prior to streaming on the free Hulu service.
After openly shopping itself around for months, Hulu recently took itself off the block, and is now reportedly eying an IPO.
"Since Hulu holds a unique and compelling strategic value to each of its owners, we have terminated the sale process," Hulu management explained in a blog post earlier this month. "Our focus now rests solely on ensuring that our efforts as owners contribute in a meaningful way to the exciting future that lies ahead for Hulu."
Netflix's recent management missteps were largely seen as an opportunity for Hulu to take market share.
Also, Reuters reported last month that the Hulu auction was in danger of getting derailed by conflicts over convoluted digital rights, a wide bid-ask gap, and a lack of commitment to sell by the video venture’s owners.