NBCUniversal has terminated its content deal with Hulu, rerouting Saturday Night Live and a number of other top titles on its own streaming service, Peacock.
The change, which is expected to come into effect in September, comes as no surprise and comes after weeks of speculation. Although it hasn’t been officially announced, it was confirmed to Deadline by several people familiar with the decision.
NBCU was an original partner of Hulu when it launched in 2007, but current parent company Comcast is ending its relationship with the service, which is now operated by majority owner Disney. Comcast retains a financial stake in Hulu until 2024, with a takeover not an easy maneuver given the rapid appreciation of streaming as a whole. Wall Streeters speculated that the parties could negotiate an early exit, but the incentive is much more Disney’s given that Hulu’s value is expected to continue to appreciate.
Starting this fall, shows including SNL, The voice and American car will not be available to stream on Hulu the day after they air. The full slate of programs moving to Peacock has yet to be finalized, given that it is a complex web of next-day rights, cable and studio titles, movies, and broadcast rates. library.
Some high-profile titles will stay on Hulu for years, of course, and the door remains open for future licensing deals between the companies. Hulu still has future rights to many titles and series of movie catalogs like Law and Order: SVU, It’s us, The Mindy Project, 30 Rock, Kinship, Friday night lights and will and grace.
The move comes amid ever-higher stakes in streaming. Peacock, which launched in mid-2020, has so far attracted 16 million premium subscribers, both stand-alone customers and those who bundled it into their pay-TV or broadband packages. Overall monthly active usage is 24.5 million accounts, which is ahead of initial projections. Executives said on the company’s latest earnings call that they intend to increase spending and take bolder steps to capitalize on recent subscriber momentum. When launched, Peacock initially focused on its ad-supported free tier, in part because a number of premium offerings, from the Olympics to Premier League football to scripted originals, were diverted by Covid.
Hulu had 45.3 million subscribers in early January, Disney said in its latest quarterly financial report.
“With the proliferation of streaming services entering the market, we have long anticipated changes to our third-party content offering and over the past few years we have increased our investment in original content,” a spokesperson said. Hulu to Deadline in a statement, citing Only murders in the building, Drug, Reservation dogs, how i met your father and feature documentary soul summer. “We continue to transform Hulu into an exclusive home for stories from The Walt Disney Company and beyond to bring our viewers even more premium content led by Hulu Originals and the next day’s television programming.”
Representatives for Comcast and NBCU did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment.