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Hulu takes swipe at Netflix, Amazon with eye on binge viewing

The streaming-video service will announce a deal Wednesday that will get it exclusive rights to previous seasons from popular shows, a report says.


Hulu might be known as a home to recently aired television episodes, but the company is now looking to eat Netflix's lunch, according to a new report.

Hulu on Wednesday will announce a multiyear deal with Comcast's NBC Universal and 21st Century Fox that will see the streaming-video service get its hands on past seasons of some of the networks' top shows, The Wall Street Journal is reporting. Past seasons of "The Mindy Project" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" will be among the shows Hulu will be offering.

Netflix and Amazon's Prime Instant Video have been waging a war over past seasons of popular shows. The companies have found that consumers who get into a show "binge" on them for a period of time, increasing engagement and the likelihood of those customers staying with the service.

Until only recently, Hulu Plus, an $8-per-month streaming service, played home to current season titles and some movies. Now, the company wants to join Amazon and Netflix in attracting customers to past seasons.

"The value of the current season to us has a limit," Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins told the Journal on Wednesday.

That Comcast was so willing to sign on to the new initiative might not come as much of a surprise. The company is a part owner in Hulu, though it's not allowed to make management decisions, in accordance with a deal it made with the US government after acquiring NBC Universal. NBC did say, however, that it did not give Hulu preferential treatment during the bidding process for its past seasons.

Fox, which can be involved in management decisions, is also a Hulu owner.

According to the Journal, the Fox shows will be available on Wednesday. NBC will roll out over 900 episodes across the wide array of networks it owns.