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The CW Ends Deal With Hulu Meaning Some of Us Won’t Watch CW Shows In-Season Ever Again

But hey, they're renewing with Netflix so enjoy watching seasons after they're over! *sigh*


Just when I think television networks are starting to figure out this “new media” thing, they do something bass-ackwards to prove that what they’re really trying to do is make “new TV” like “old TV.”

As reported by Deadline Hollywood, The CW and Hulu did not renew their in-season rights deal, whereas The CW will continue their pact with Netflix for full seasons of their programming. What does this mean? Well, as you might know, CW shows were available on Hulu the day after they aired, and five episodes (their “rolling five”) were kept up at a time (on Hulu Plus, more episodes are available, but how many episodes you have available at a time depends on the show, and when they get taken down seems super-arbitrary. Like, sometimes you’d have episodes 1-6 on a show, it’d skip 7 and 8, then you’d have 9….so random). Netflix has full seasons of CW shows available after each season is over.

So now, those of us who kept up with CW shows on Hulu won’t have access to them there as they air anymore. Why? Well, money naturally. Not just the money itself, but who gets it. The Netflix deal was brokered by CW parent companies Warner Bros. and CBS Corp. Their studios Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios produce all of The CW’s shows and are the ones getting the revenue. Meanwhile, the Hulu deal was brokered by The CW directly, with the revenue from it directly benefiting that network. When Hulu asked for access to full seasons as they aired, The CW had to turn them down, because that would compete with the Netflix deal.

Way to throw one of your networks under the bus, CBS Corp/WB. You know they could use the money, right?

Now, The CW still has in-season rights to its shows, and they said at their upfront presentation “that it will make “rolling five” episodes available to more than 80 million devices on mobile, tablet, and all major OTT platforms. There had been talk about a possible play on CBS All Access.” So, that should make us feel better, right?

Here’s the thing. What was so great about being able to watch these shows on Hulu was that we were able to watch our favorite CW shows as well as our faves from other networks. From the viewer’s perspective, it’s much more convenient to go to one service to watch everything, rather than have to hunt for each individual network’s website/app. And yes, as much as people binge watch things these days, they still enjoy the communal experience of watching shows as they air (or within a few days) so that they can fan-bond over each episode. This decision makes it difficult for many fans to do that legally, especially considering the fact that fewer and fewer people even have cable anymore. Many of us count on Hulu and Hulu Plus to keep up with what everyone’s watching (and it also allows for ad revenue).

Decisions like this will only make people more likely to give up entirely and just torrent the individual shows they want. It’s really frustrating when studios and networks want to punish people for piracy, rightfully calling it theft, but then make it more difficult to get what they want. It’s kind of like being all “Don’t steal bread. But also, you can only buy bread from these three stores five miles from where you live. But we’d better not catch you sharing bread with your neighbors.” M…..kay?

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