To spice up its summer offerings, Hulu is looking beyond America’s borders for programming, bringing the acclaimed British series Misfits to the United States for the first time. Notably, Hulu has licensed not only the two seasons of Misfits to air in the U.K. so far, but also the yet-to-air third season, which will premiere this fall on the U.K. television channel E4.
Misfits, the tale of five juvenile offenders cursed with superpowers, has a strong, high-concept premise and a number of awards under its belt, including the 2010 BAFTA Award for Best Drama. But while many U.K. series have found distribution on U.S. networks like BBC America, PBS and Showtime, Misfits didn’t find a home here, likely due to the show’s quirky balance between genres and its graphic language and content.
But according to Hulu SVP of Content Acquisition and Distribution Andy Forssell in a phone interview, while there’s “a hole in the marketplace” for shows like Misfits, the series was at the top of Hulu’s list for potential content acquisitions. The deal “didn’t take a lot of negotiation; we came to a common ground quite quickly,” he said.
That deal is a straight licensing agreement with no revenue share, like most of Hulu’s overseas licensing deals, and while episodes may expire from the free service in the future, the show will be available on Hulu Plus for “years to come.”
Forssell compared the arrangement to many anime series Hulu currently hosts, which are currently running in Japan. Not only has Hulu had a great deal of success engaging with the rabid fan bases of those shows, but they’re working to counteract piracy by airing new episodes the day after the shows premiere in Japan. No details were available on what kind of delay Misfits would premiere under once new episodes start in the U.K., but Forssell pointed to the anime model as one worth replicating.
Forssell said that putting up the shows of Hulu’s content partners is still Hulu’s priority, but that they’ll continue to look internationally for additional programming — for example, the BBC comedy series Whites, starring Alan Davies is coming later this summer.
The content team’s aim with these acquisitions is to find shows that a small but loyal audience will be passionate about, thus raising the show’s profile online and building a following. “That’s the sweet spot,” Forssell said. The three episodes of Misfits to premiere so far on Hulu are currently on the second page of Hulu’s most popular list, below most of the new programming premiering right now — but people are talking about the show. Currently, there are over 150 posted reviews and 70 discussions on the episodes.