Hulu has launched the latest salvo in the streaming war, spending $180 million to acquire the SVOD rights to Seinfeld. The entire series spans 180 episodes, which means Hulu is spending a million dollars per episode for a show about nothing. This enormous sum of money should come as welcome relief to media upstarts Sony TV and Time Warner, and to struggling showbiz journeymen/co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. (It may also encourage producers of the Real Housewives family of programs, given that those shows have somehow managed to be about less than nothing.)
Hulu’s announcement that Seinfeld is streaming gold, Jerry! Gold!, follows recent news that Netflix considered absorbing Seinfeld into its Borg-like community, but passed, reportedly balking at Sony’s asking price. Either that, or they couldn’t stand Costanza. Of course, Netflix did just purchase the entire series of Friends, so maybe they’ve calculated just how much ’90s-era Must See TV they can ram into subscribers’ eyeholes.
The purchase of the entire Seinfeld collection will look nice on the rack next to Hulu’s other recent acquisition, all 50 trillion episodes of CSI. These big-ticket media acquisitions indicate that companies like Hulu and Netflix are pursuing an aggressive strategy to be the leading gatekeepers to syndicated content. It also suggests that streaming services think people care about being able to select a specific episode in which Kramer slides in through Jerry’s apartment door, George balls his fists in impotent frustration, and Elaine expresses detached, cat-like disapproval. Because the deluge of random Seinfeld episodes that are perpetually present somewhere on TV at any given time is insufficient.