Hulu Snaps Up Streaming Rights to ER—As Well As George Clooney’s Next TV Series, Catch-22

All 15 seasons of the medical drama are now on the streaming service

This is the first time that all 15 seasons of ER have been available to stream. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Hulu continued its dual approach of bulking up both its original and acquired series slates by announcing two big coups today: The company has landed exclusive streaming rights to the hit medical series ER—which turned George Clooney into a megastar two decades ago—and has also snapped up Clooney’s next show, a limited series adaptation of the classic novel Catch-22.

The streaming service made the dual Clooney-related announcements ahead of its appearance at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, where Hulu also revealed that its hit drama The Handmaid’s Tale will return for a 13-episode second season on Wednesday, April 25. Two new episodes will be released that day, with one new episode available every subsequent Wednesday.

Hulu outbid its streaming competitors for rights to Catch-22—based on Joseph Heller’s World War II novel—a six-part limited series that Clooney will produce, direct and star in as Colonel Cathcart. The title refers to the paradoxical military rule in which U.S. Air Force pilots don’t have to keep flying if they are pronounced mentally unfit, but any pilots who apply to stop flying are considered sane enough to keep flying.

“Catch-22 is a rare story that has withstood the test of time, not only as a literary masterpiece, but as a story that still resonates in today’s political and social conversation,” said Hulu’s chief content officer Joel Stillerman in a statement. “These are exactly the types of stories we want to be programming at Hulu.”

Catch-22 will go into production this year, but likely won’t be ready to air until 2019.

In the meantime, audiences can get their Clooney fix by watching his last TV show, ER, which makes its exclusive Hulu debut today, with all 15 seasons available to stream for the first time ever. The show launched the careers of many of its stars, including Clooney, Julianna Margulies and Noah Wyle.

ER—one of the biggest TV hits in the last three decades—premiered in 1994 and became the longest-running medical drama in U.S. TV history. The show’s most-watched episode, in which Clooney’s Dr. Ross saved a boy who was stuck in a storm drain, was viewed by 48 million people in 1995.

This has been yet another high-profile library acquisition for Hulu, which in the past year alone has snapped up streaming rights to current and classic hits like Will & Grace, This Is Us, The Golden Girls and TGIF sitcoms including Full House and Family Matters.

Hulu said its library is the largest of any streaming video on demand service (i.e. Netflix of Amazon) in the U.S.

During its most successful year ever in 2017—including the launch of the critically-acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale (which won the Emmy and Golden Globe for best drama series, with star Elisabeth Moss winning best actress in a drama) and a live TV service—Hulu raked in more than $1 billion in annual ad revenue for the first time. The company now has more than 17 million U.S. subscribers between its subscription video on demand (SVOD) and live TV plans, a 40 percent increase over the 12 million subscribers that the company reported in 2016.

Hulu also released the first trailer for the new season of The Handmaid’s Tale, which will return for Season 2 on April 25.

Among Hulu’s other winter press tour announcements, on March 23 the streaming service will air a sequel to the 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, called March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step. Like the original film, which won the Oscar for best documentary, the second installment is directed by Luc Jacquet and narrated by Morgan Freeman.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.