Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Jon Stewart's Hulu Price Tag: At Least $40 Million

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were two of Hulu’s biggest draws until they left the video site last March. And it will cost Hulu at least $40 million to get them back.

That’s according to people familiar with the new deal, announced last night, between the video site and cable giant Viacom. They tell me Hulu has agreed to a guaranteed payment in the $40 million to $50 million range for Viacom’s programming. The total payout could increase depending on the shows’ performance.

That money covers the new deal’s entire length, which hasn’t been disclosed–Viacom will only allow that the deal goes “into” 2012. But it’s reasonable to assume it’s a two-year pact, just like Hulu’s programming deals with its parents/content owners–News Corp.’s Fox, Disney’s ABC and Comcast’s NBCU. (News Corp. also owns this Web site.)

Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows will be available for free, the day after they air, on– just as they used to be. In addition, Viacom will also provide shows like “Tosh.0” and “Jersey Shore,” on a 21-day delay, on Hulu’s paid Hulu Plus service.

The deal is a coup for Hulu, but it’s unclear how many more of them CEO Jason Kilar can pull off without getting more financing. And for that he’ll need the full support of his partners, which makes the blog post he put up last night in the wake of the announcement that much more puzzling. Or maybe he doesn’t want to run Hulu anymore.

For now, just like old times, here’s a Hulu clip from one of Stewart’s recent episodes, where he takes advantage of the big, fat, hanging curveball that Rep. Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party served up last week.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik