It’s a big day for Hulu. The streaming subscription service that offers viewers access to a huge library of current and former television hits as well as its own fledgling original series has announced that it will be the streaming home for this year’s monster hit, Empire.
Empire is easily the biggest new show of the year. Not only did the hip-hop flavored soap open big for Fox, but it did the unprecedented by gaining new viewers with every episode. If you’ve been anywhere near social media during Empire’s 15 episode run, then you’ve definitely seen more than a few GIFs of breakout star Taraji P. Henson as the flamboyantly dressed sass-machine matriarch Cookie Lyon. Empire’s two part season finale on Wednesday night drew a series high of 16.5 million live viewers. That number climbs to 17.6 million if you include people who caught up later online and those figures are still growing. Needless to say, Empire is a hot property, and outside of speculating about the second season, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is where they can find the show once it concludes its limited run on the Fox website.
Streaming rights were once an afterthought for network shows, but with streaming audiences steadily growing, networks can charge streaming platforms top dollar for exclusive deals on hit shows once they’ve finished their broadcast run. Outlets like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix routinely battle over the rights to popular shows, hoping to attractive new subscribers by streaming buzzy and beloved shows. In this case Hulu, an joint venture between several broadcast networks, has an advantage since Empire-network Fox owns a big chunk of the streaming platform along with competitors NBC and ABC.
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