Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hulu Keeps Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for Two More Years, Adds SpongeBob

Hulu may have big changes ahead of it, but for now the company is proceeding along the same path: Today it announced it has broadened a deal with Viacom, by adding some of the cable giant’s Nickelodeon shows to its Hulu Plus subscription service.

Just as important, the deal extends Hulu’s previous Viacom pact for another two years. That means Hulu and Hulu Plus viewers can keep using the video service to watch Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s nightly shows, two of Hulu’s biggest draws.

The new deal will give Hulu Plus access to some of Nickelodeon’s live-action and animated kids’ shows, like “iCarly,” “Big Time Rush,” and “SpongeBob Squarepants.”

But it doesn’t include sister channel Nick Jr.’s shows, which are targeted at younger kids. That means no “Dora the Explorer” or “Fresh Beat Band.” Some of those titles are licensed to Hulu competitors Amazon and Netflix.

Viacom’s kids’ shows have been a subject of scrutiny over the last year, as their ratings have slipped. Some analysts argue that Viacom and Disney have been sacrificing TV eyeballs by putting those shows online.

The big picture for Hulu is that it still has the ability to pay for premium programming that doesn’t come from its three broadcast TV owners — NBC, Disney and Fox* — and that it’s willing to do so. The Viacom stuff is unlikely to come cheap — in 2011, when Viacom and Hulu announced the first deal, I pegged the price at $40 million to $50 million.

Meanwhile, we’re into October, and Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is still running the company. That means my most recent predictions about his departure — the most recent one was that he would be out in September — was wrong. Just like all the others I’ve made.

Plans for Hulu’s network owners to buy out co-investor Providence Equity Partners’ stake, in the works since last spring, have yet to close, which means Kilar and his co-workers haven’t received big checks from the “liquidity event,” either. Once they do, things could change, but I’ll refrain from crystal ball gazing this time around.

*Fox is owned by News Corp., which also owns this Web site.


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