UPDATED with launch taking effect. Modern Family, which wrapped its highly decorated, 11-season network run last year, is embarking on a significant new streaming chapter via a shared deal with Peacock and Hulu.
Starting today, all 250 episodes of the Emmy-laden sitcom are available on both services after years of only having a limited batch of episodes on Hulu.
Indications from the deal announcement on January 26 are that the go-go streaming market remains in full effect. Sources familiar with the terms said the multi-year acquisition price stretched well into nine figures, consistent with healthy rates for recent half-hours such as Friends, The Office and Seinfeld. Prices have been driven steadily higher by the entry of several new billion-dollar players into the streaming fray in the past year.
In the case of Modern Family, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which launched in mid-2020, appears to have benefited from an expansive rights deal reached in 2010, according to people familiar with the talks. That long-term agreement, which put syndicated episodes on USA Network, was reached at the dawn of streaming. Yet it encompassed all rights, which enabled Peacock to keep its place at the table. The initial USA deal locked the digital rights in the basic-cable sphere with media companies at the time focused on “TV Everywhere” streaming apps that require a pay-TV subscription. Sources indicated that parties were able to find a way to unlock the digital rights and have Peacock share in the new setup.
The deals were negotiated separately by the streaming platforms with Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution. A further wrinkle of note in a deal labeled “unprecedented” by the companies is the corporate ownership of Hulu, which once was controlled equally by three media companies: Disney, NBCU parent Comcast and 21st Century Fox. When Disney bought most of Fox in 2019, it also acquired Comcast’s Hulu stake.
“In the end, we decided that this was the best model for all of us,” Val Boreland, head of acquisitions for NBCU Television and Streaming, told Deadline in an interview. She declined to address financial terms.
At launch, Boreland said, the first 12 episodes of the 24-episode first season of Modern Family will be available on Peacock. The remaining 10 seasons will be on Peacock Premium, which is $5 a month for most customers. Comcast has said Peacock has attracted 26 million users to date, though the company has not broken out numbers for the premium tier. Hulu had 38.8 million subscribers as of December, according to Disney.
The high-profile acquisition follows Peacock’s heavily touted debut of The Office this month after its blockbuster stretch on Netflix. “Once you make such a splash, everything that comes after it now has to come after it and follow and try to live up to that,” Boreland said. “The bar has been set by The Office.”
The nature of Modern Family and its long tenure on ABC lend themselves to materials and options that can be marshaled for its streaming run, much as The Office has made use of extended scenes and other bonuses for fans.
USA’s relationship with Modern Family is an advantage with the Peacock bow, Boreland said, because there is “a lot of marketing work and stunting work in the last years that will be very helpful” to Peacock.
“Thanks to its sharp writing and an eccentric but exceedingly likable cast of characters, Modern Family ushered in the return of the family sitcom and offered viewers a unique and refreshing portrayal of family life,” Hulu VP Content Partnerships Brian Henderson said in the official announcement. “We were fortunate to bring this beloved series to Hulu audiences next-day during its celebrated run, and now we’re excited to offer every episode so new fans can meet the Pritchetts, Dunphys and Tuckers and old friends can visit them again.”
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