'Jerry, Hello' -- Hulu lands all 180 episodes of 'Seinfeld'

The show about nothing means something to Hulu, which reports say may be paying between $700,000 and $1 million per episode..

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
"Seinfeld" is landing on Hulu Plus in June. Seinfeld

Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer will soon join the lineup on Hulu Plus.

The video streaming service has cut a deal with Sony Pictures TV to stream all 180 episodes of "Seinfeld," Hulu announced Wednesday at its "upfront" presentation.

"Since Hulu began, we've gotten more emails, letters and text messages about one thing: a show about nothing," Craig Erwich, head of content for the video streaming service, said at the event in New York City.

The upfront presentations are major events for the US television networks to tout their upcoming lineup of shows and for the advertisers who buy time for commercials that will run during those shows. Hulu is owned by the traditional TV networks and, though it's a strictly online venture, it serves the needs of the networks as much as it does those of online viewers.

Also on Wednesday, Hulu said that it now has nearly 9 million paid subscribers, a 50 percent increase over the last year. By comparison, Netflix has just over 40 million subscribers in the US, where Hulu operates, and nearly 60 million around the world.

All nine seasons of "Seinfeld" will start streaming on Hulu in June. Series co-creator Jerry Seinfeld joined Erwich on stage to announce that Hulu had acquired the exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to every episode of "Seinfeld."

A Hulu representative said the company is not disclosing financial information about the deal, but other sources have chimed in with reported figures. On Tuesday, Variety pegged the value of the agreement at almost $1 million per episode, meaning Hulu would shell out close to $180 million for the entire series. However, "a person with knowledge of the agreement" told the Wall Street Journal that the per-episode cost would be around $700,000, which would still be one of the largest deals in Hulu's history.

The face that launched 180 epsiodes...Jerry Seinfeld speaks Wednesday in New York City. Joan E. Solsman/CNET

Whatever the price tag, getting the rights to "Seinfeld" is huge win for Hulu. Though it's been off the air since 1998, the series remains one of the most memorable sitcoms in history, ranked by TV Guide in 2002 as the greatest television show of all time. Such quotes from the show as "No soup for you" and "Happy Festivus" have been an enduring part of pop culture. Neither Netflix nor Amazon offers "Seinfeld" for streaming, so the deal could convince fans to sign up for Hulu Plus's $7.99-per-month service.

The only other online service that streams "Seinfeld" episodes is Crackle, which is owned by Sony TV and is probably best known for Jerry Seinfeld's " Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" series. But Crackle offers only a small number of "Seinfeld" episodes. So Hulu would be the first video-on-demand service to snag every episode of the series.

Sony TV has been trying to sell the streaming rights to "Seinfeld" for the past few months, according to Variety. Netflix showed some interest in acquiring the series, the Journal said, but instead bought the streaming rights to "Friends" for around $500,000 per episode. Another popular sitcom from the '90s, since the beginning of the year. Amazon and Yahoo also bid for the lucrative "Seinfeld" rights, the Journal said.

The money doled out by Hulu to acquire the series would be split among Sony TV, Time Warner's Castle Rock Entertainment and the two men who created the show: Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

Update, 8:20 a.m. PT: Hulu's response to a request for financial terms was added.