CBS is taking its older content to streaming service Hulu's premium service Hulu Plus. Hulu is co-owned by all of CBS's major competitors; the content licensed is a mirror image of the shows covered by the deal signed with Netflix not long ago. The streaming service, co-owned by Disney, NBCUniversal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners, will now show library content including recent series like Medium, Numb3rs and CSI: Miami, as well as vintage shows including Star Trek, I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone to paying customers (Hulu's free edition won't include the CBS library shows).
CBS content has been announced as part of Hulu's offerings in Japan, and content produced by the network for The CW has also aired on the streaming service. But this is the first official toe in the water for CBS, as far as the third-party service goes (the network streams much of its own material on in-house websites).
Hulu has capitalized chiefly on premium and day-after content of current series; the content is much more likely to find enthusiastic viewership on Netflix, which has begun to function for younger television viewers the way syndication used to work for baby boomers. It's a storehouse for old and beloved series, many of which don't have regular berths on cable networks or during the daytime on broadcast, but still have enough partisans to command a few dollars a month in subscription fees.
Is Hulu trying to move more heavily into the library content market, or is it merely paving the way for future CBS shows, when and if the network sees the light and agrees to air Two and a Half Men a day or so late? And if Carl Icahn manages to strip Netflix and sell it for parts, will Hulu be the only game in town?