As of September, new episodes of some NBCUniversal shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Voice and American Auto will no longer hit Hulu the day after they air. NBCUniversal has ended a content deal between the two sides, meaning those series will stream exclusively on Peacock. It's not clear which other shows will be affected by the move, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.
The decision to sever ties with Hulu comes as NBCU tries to drive more subscribers to Peacock. At the end of last year, it had 9 million paying subscribers (most of whom opt for the $5 ad-supported tier) and 24.5 million monthly active accounts. It's unclear how many of those are using the free tier. Comcast subscribers can access an ad-supported version of Peacock Premium at no extra cost.
“Much of our strong NBC content premieres on Hulu. Over time we’d like to bring that back to Peacock,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during Comcast's January earnings call. Comcast CFO Mike Cavanagh said the company planned to spend $3 billion on Peacock content this year.
Keeping popular shows like SNL and The Voice as streaming exclusives could help NBCU boost Peacock user numbers. NBCU has invested in other types of content to bring in subscribers, including live sports rights, local news channels and making WWE Network exclusive to the platform. Peacock also has a slate of originals, including Bel-Air and an upcoming Twisted Metal series.
Having many broadcast and cable shows available to stream the day after they air has long been a selling point for Hulu. It'll be a blow for the service to lose some notable NBC series.
Although Disney has been fully in charge of Hulu since 2019, Comcast still owns 33 percent of the service. Comcast can require Disney to buy out its stake, but not until 2024. At the end of 2021, Hulu had 45.3 million subscribers.
Update 3/4/22 8:30pm ET: "With the proliferation of streaming services entering the marketplace, we have long anticipated changes to our third-party content offering and over the past few years have increased our investment in original content, including popular and award-nominated titles," a Hulu spokesperson told Engadget via email. "As a leading destination for breakthrough storytelling, we continue to transform Hulu into an exclusive home for stories from across The Walt Disney Company and beyond to bring our viewers even more premium content led by Hulu Originals and next-day television programming."