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Hulu Acquires Exclusive Rights to Seinfeld Episodes

Seinfeld on Hulu

George, Kramer, Jerry and Elaine will soon be streaming on your smartphone, tablet, computer and TV thanks to Hulu. The streaming content provider has just acquired exclusive rights to Seinfeld.

There are myriad TV shows, but most of them aren’t very good. If we filter out all of the mediocrity, the list of excellent TV shows is quite small. Most people’s short list would include Seinfeld, one of the most popular TV shows ever. Now you can watch every episode of Seinfeld on Hulu.

Hulu Signs $160m Deal to Acquire Exclusive Seinfeld Streaming Rights

Hulu’s acquisition of exclusive Seinfeld streaming rights is one of the largest deals in streaming video history. The landmark deal gives Hulu the rights to stream Seinfeld for about 5 years. Hulu will offer viewers all 180 Seinfeld episodes starting in June, which is unprecedented.

The rights to Seinfeld are owned by Sony Pictures TV. Sony’s Crackle streaming service only offered a handful of episodes, and in syndication, TV channels only show a fraction of Seinfeld reruns. This is big news for people who want to watch Seinfeld in its entirety. Viewers can watch Seinfeld from the first episode to the last, in proper order.

Do I Need to Subscribe to Hulu Plus to Watch Seinfeld?

Viewers will not need a subscription to Hulu Plus to enjoy Seinfeld episodes. Anyone can watch Seinfeld using a computer. If you wish to view Seinfeld on a mobile device or set-top box, such as Apple TV, you should subscribe to Hulu Plus.

A mobile browser such as Photon can stream standard Hulu videos for free. Unfortunately, cloud-based Flash sessions leave much to be desired. If $8 a month for Hulu Plus is too steep, you can watch Seinfeld for free using a computer. You can even beam Seinfeld to your Apple TV using AirPlay screen mirroring or software such as AirParrot, which supports Mac OS X and Windows. Most modern notebook computers have an HDMI output. There are many ways to get Hulu on your flat screen TV.

Hulu’s Seinfeld Deal Strengthens Competition

This year will mark the biggest shift in video consumption. TV providers are out and streaming video on demand is in. Cable and satellite companies once had a stranglehold on content, with exclusive deals between studios, content providers and networks. These deals are dissolving, as millennial viewers are turning away from older TV technologies.

Cost is one aspect of this shift. It is much more cost-effective to just have an Internet connection and a few streaming services. Newer streaming and mobile technologies offer a better user experience.

Anyone using a cable or satellite box is well aware of the poor user interface. Every button on the remote has a specific function and the controls are not contextual. Users must scan the tiny text on the remote to find the right button. This is difficult to do in the dark. Compare this to Apple TV, a product that Apple is just starting to take seriously. It is remarkably easy to find and play content from a variety of sources.

Seinfeld is a big win for Hulu, however, they are still outpaced by Netflix. The recent acquisition of Friends gives Netflix a more popular show. Indeed, Netflix still seems to have an edge when it comes to older popular TV shows. They have Breaking Bad and MASH, which are some of the most popular shows of all time.

Hulu’s Seinfeld deal is an advantage, but it underscores the consumers’ need to subscribe to a few streaming services. Their content is mostly complimentary. When it comes to recent TV episodes, Hulu Plus beats Netflix. Overall, Netflix offers more popular TV shows. If you like HBO originals, neither service has them. You have to subscribe to HBO NOW.

The competitive landscape is changing. Television providers used to have access to everything. Whether you had cable or satellite, you could get the same content, but the price and user experience were too similar. Collusion may be a strong accusation, but there were definitely sweetheart deals between TV providers, networks and content creators. There still are. Anyone who has cut the cord and uses Apple TV is likely frustrated by the abundance of Apple TV channels requiring TV provider activation.

We now live in an age where streaming providers are negotiating exclusive deals. This means that consumers must choose from a variety of complimentary offerings, with little overlap. Which is better, Hulu Or Netflix? They are different. People sometimes need to choose one or the other out of financial necessity. If you cancelled cable, however, the savings justify subscribing to multiple services.

I do think this opens the door for services offering a bundle of streaming providers for a lower price. A company could bundle Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO NOW and others into a less expensive package. Perhaps Apple or an Internet Service Provider will take this on? Until then, we will have to choose from different steaming video providers or juggle subscriptions, canceling them or putting them on hold when not in use.


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