Current-season shows on The CW including "The Vampire Diaries" and "Gossip
Girl" are coming to Hulu.
The five-year deal announced Friday means that before the end of the year, the online video service will feature shows from five of the largest six broadcasters — ABC, NBC, Fox, The CW, and Univision. The only holdout is CBS.
Under the new deal, subscribers who pay $8 a month for Hulu Plus will get the five most recent episodes from The CW's lineup the day after they are broadcast on television. The same episodes will then be available for free on CWTV.com three days after broadcast. Eight days after broadcast, the episodes will be available on the free version of Hulu for computers.
All the versions will come with ads. But episodes on Hulu and Hulu Plus have about half the regular ad load of television, or about two or three ads per break. CWTV.com will host shows that have the same number as on television, or about four per break.
The deal is the latest move by Hulu to bulk up on its library of content since its owners — The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., Comcast Corp. and Providence Equity Partners — decided not to sell it earlier this month.
Hulu's senior vice president of content, Andy Forsell, said the offering will resonate with The CW's tech savvy audience, which is focused on young women aged 18-34.
"Their audience is obviously a generation that is really comfortable online," he said. "They're very comfortable going back and forth."
The CW sees the move as a way to capture new licensing revenue, but also bring viewers back to watching the debut broadcast on television.
"They can actually help drive viewers back to the network and the local stations that are airing our shows," said Mark Pedowitz, president of The CW.
Putting shows on the free version Hulu eight days after the initial broadcast is not unusual. Fox imposed the delay on its shows starting in August, although it allows day-after access to subscribers of certain pay TV subscribers.
Earlier this month, The CW also agreed to make all its previous seasons' shows available to subscribers of Netflix Inc.'s streaming plan, which also costs $8 a month. Those episodes come without ads.
The CW is co-owned by CBS Corp. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.