Viacom Twirls Hulu Hoop Again

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Hulu and Viacom announced a new content deal late Wednesday that will put The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report back on Hulu.com -- after nearly a year off the site -- as well as bring MTV's Jersey Shore and other current Viacom shows to the premium Hulu Plus service 21 days after air.

Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Content under the agreement to be added to the Hulu Plus $7.99 monthly subscription service will come from Viacom media networks including Comedy Central, MTV, BET, VH1, Spike TV and TV Land.

The Colbert Report on Hulu

Notably, Nickelodeon content is not covered under the Hulu deal.

Under the pact, current full episodes and clips of The Daily Show and Colbert Report will be available on the free-to-consumer, ad-supported Hulu.com service and through the Hulu Plus subscription service beginning Feb. 2, 2011.

Viacom pulled the two Comedy Central mainstays from Hulu.com in March 2010. At the time, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said, "In the current economic model, there is not that much in it for us to continue at this time."

Under the new deal, Viacom will make available to Hulu Plus subscribers a selection of current programs, such as Jersey Shore, Tosh.0, Teen Mom 2, Manswers, Let's Stay Together and Hot in Cleveland 21 days after they air. Viacom content availability on Hulu Plus will vary on a show-by-show basis.

Also for Hulu Plus, Viacom will make available more than 2,000 episodes of programming from Viacom's library, including The Chappelle Show, Reno 911, Beavis & Butthead, Real World, Punk'd and Baldwin Hills.

The Hulu Plus service is available via PCs, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, smartphones and tablets.

Hulu anticipates signing up more than 1 million paying customers in 2011 and by this fall Hulu Plus will have an annual revenue run rate of more than $200 million, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a blog post. Overall, Hulu projects sales nearing $500 million (advertising and subscription combined) this year, up from $263 million in 2010 and $108 million in 2009.

"A key element of Hulu Plus is that we are able to compensate content owners more per-user per-month than anyone else for the same body of content," he said. "We are able to do this because of the subscription fee, our unusually effective and market-leading advertising service, and our tolerance for thin margins."

Commenting on the deal, Dauman said, "The Hulu Plus service offers us the opportunity to connect with our audiences through an exciting subscription and ad-supported platform that is complementary to our existing distribution arrangements. This innovative agreement allows us to benefit from the success and expansion of Hulu and we look forward to bringing our popular content to their growing audience."

Viacom is scheduled to report fourth quarter 2010 earnings on Thursday.

Riffing on the fact the deal includes episodes of MTV's Jersey Show, Kilar said in announcing the deal, "We are thankful that Viacom was DTS" -- "down to snuggle," a catchphrase from the hit show. He added, "Our first order of business in the partnership is GTL [gym, tan, laundry] with Philippe and his team."

Hulu, the most popular U.S. source of TV content on the Internet, was founded in 2007. It is a joint venture of NBC Universal, News Corp., The Walt Disney Co. and Providence Equity Partners. Under the terms of Comcast's deal for NBCU, the latter no longer has a seat on the Hulu board or any operational control.

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