Hulu is looking to court movie buffs to its subscription Plus offering, announcing Tuesday that it has acquired streaming rights for hundreds of classic films from The Criterion Collection. But as Hulu Plus adds content that will appeal to big-time movie buffs, Netflix is trying to steal away its broadcast TV fans.
According to the Hulu blog, more than 150 Criterion titles will be available for streaming through the Hulu Plus service, including Breathless, Seven Samurai and La Strada. The deal will ramp up over the next several months to include 800 classic films in total.
Unlike TV shows on Hulu Plus, which are shipped with ad breaks built in, Criterion films shown on the subscription service won’t have ad breaks thrown in, although subscribers might have to watch a pre-roll ad before a film starts. In addition to movies available through the subscription service, Criterion will also rotate several movies on Hulu’s free, ad-supported website with ad breaks built in.
Hulu’s addition of Criterion may be a good way to attract movie buffs to its subscription streaming service. But it might not be enough to differentiate Hulu Plus from Netflix. Notably, many of the same Criterion titles that Hulu names in its blog are also available through Netflix’s streaming library. The move also comes at the same time that Netflix has moved in on Hulu’s turf by adding a vast quantity of TV content to its streaming library. In one example, Netflix recently struck a deal with Disney to license a wide variety of ABC and Disney Channel TV programming for streaming.
Meanwhile, although Hulu is adding movie content to its library, it still needs to lock down content from partners ABC, Fox and NBC, who provide broadcast TV content for its free, ad-supported video website, as current deals reportedly end this year. But some partners are considering pulling some of their free content from Hulu, or at least severely delaying its release.
Update: Peter Kafka at MediaMemo reports that the Hulu-Criterion deal is exclusive, which means Hulu Plus will soon be the only place old movie buffs will be able to catch Criterion titles.
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