Hulu has snagged exclusive streaming rights for the new undisputed ratings monster from Fox, Empire.
The streaming service has already posted the full first season of Empire after acquiring exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to future seasons. This means every new episode (not surprisingly, the hit show has already been renewed for a second season) will be made available on Hulu Plus the day after it broadcasts on Fox.
When Fox picked up the show, which stars veteran actors Terrance Howard (Crash) and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), the network obviously saw its potential as a hit, but likely didn’t anticipate that it would be the ratings powerhouse that it is. The show’s first season finale, which aired this week, broke records as the highest rated first-year show since Grey’s Anatomy, watched by 16.7 million viewers according to IMDB.
Perhaps just as impressive, the show’s viewing audience has been growing steadily since the season began – a trend almost unheard of with new shows, which typically see slight drop-offs in ratings as they progress.
The show follows a powerful family in the hip hop music business, led by Lucious Lyon, a drug dealer turned music producer (played by Howard) who finds out he has ALS just as his ex-wife Cookie (Henson) is released from prison following a 17-year sentence for dealing. With Cookie’s release, Lyon engaged, the kids now grown, and power struggles for the rights to the family business, there’s no shortage of drama at play.
Hulu’s free service was already offering the first five episodes for free, but those have been removed once the full season was added to Hulu Plus. Those interested can now watch for the $8/month subscription price.
While terms were not disclosed, one can guess that it may have fallen in line with the massive figures paid for exclusive rights to other hot shows – both The Blacklist (NBC) and Gotham (Fox) made licensing deals for close to $2 million per episode.
In the highly competitive streaming TV space, which includes major competitors Netflix and Amazon, as well as new comers in the future like HBO Now, snapping up hot shows quickly is essential to enhancing ones offering.
If you want to check out Empire now, you’ll have to pony up the dough for Hulu Plus, if you haven’t already. The two-hour season finale was reportedly chocked full of a ton of guest appearances that might, on its own, be worth the price of entry.