Hulu has fired the latest shot in the battle to become master of the streaming television domain.
Hulu said Wednesday it has secured exclusive streaming rights to the classic sitcom Seinfeld in what could be one of the streaming service’s largest content acquisitions to date. While Hulu did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, Variety reports it is worth roughly $180 million — that works out to nearly $1 million for each of the show’s 180 episodes.
The agreement will make all nine seasons of Seinfeld available to stream on Hulu starting in June. Hulu — which is co-owned by Comcast (CMCSA), The Walt Disney Company (DIS) and 21st Century Fox (FOX) — cut the deal with Sony Pictures Television, though The Wall Street Journal notes that a large chunk of the money will go to Time Warner (TWX) thanks to its ownership of the sitcom’s producer, Castle Rock Entertainment.
“Whether you are an existing fan who just wants to relive your favorite moments over and over again, or are a new viewer who wants to experience Seinfeld from the very beginning, Hulu will now be your destination to stream what has been dubbed as one of the greatest shows of all time,” Hulu’s head of content, Craig Erwich, said in a statement.
There was reportedly strong interest in the exclusive Seinfeld rights from other streaming sites, including Netflix (NFLX), which recently landed the rights to another hit sitcom that aired in the 1990s — Friends — for a price of around $500,000 per episode.
Streaming services have become increasingly more willing to shell out large sums of money for reruns of popular sitcoms even as ad revenue growth for television networks’ syndicated shows has been practically non-existent in recent years. Cable network TBS, which will continue to run syndicated episodes of Seinfeld under an existing agreement, pays $1.5 million per episode for syndication rights to CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. And, two years ago, FXX reached a massive deal, worth at least $750 million, for the rights to reruns of The Simpsons.
In addition to touting the arrival of Seinfeld, Hulu also took the time at an event Wednesday morning to announce a slate of new original content that is coming to the streaming service. A new partnership with AMC Networks (AMCX) will bring future series produced by that company’s networks — including AMC, IFC and BBC America — exclusively to Hulu. The website also previewed original programming that include a James Franco-starring miniseries based on a Stephen King novel as well as a comedy series produced by Amy Poehler.
Like its online streaming rivals, Hulu is trying to bulk up its roster of original programming. Both Netflix and Amazon produce original television series that have won large followings as well as critical acclaim in recent years, while upstart challengers such as Crackle have also entered the fray. Crackle already has its own Jerry Seinfeld-starring vehicle in the the popular web show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, which debuted on the streaming site three years ago and features Seinfeld chatting with fellow comedians about their shared craft.
On Wednesday, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins promised that “bigger content acquisitions and a new slate of premium originals” would help his company further build on a subscriber base that already grew roughly 50% last year, to almost nine million subscribers. That total still trails streaming leader Netflix, which boasts more than 62 million global streaming subscribers.