Modern Family Heads to Hulu and Peacock in Unusual Dual Distribution Deal

It's the first time the sitcom will be available to stream in its entirety

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The beloved family sitcom Modern Family will be available to steam in its entirety for the first time next month. And it won’t be on just one service, either: The show will appear on Disney’s Hulu and NBCUniversal’s Peacock.

Beginning Feb. 3, both streaming services will add the acclaimed series to their libraries, part of an unusual multi-year joint agreement with Disney’s media and entertainment distribution arm that was announced today.

On Hulu, subscribers at the $6-a-month ad-supported and $12-a-month ad-free tiers will be able to watch the series. On Peacock, users on its free tier will have access to a dozen Modern Family episodes for free, while the rest will be accessible via Peacock’s $5-a-month ad-supported or $10-a-month ad-free premium tiers. (Some viewers, including Xfinity and Cox customers, may have access to Peacock’s premium tiers at a discount based on existing deals.)

Modern Family has ties to both media companies that will be streaming the series. The show was produced by 20th Television (now owned by Disney), was broadcast on Disney’s ABC network and airs in syndication on NBCUniversal’s USA Network.

It’s a big get for both services, which are looking to bulk up their programming offerings as viewers’ appetites for streaming continues to grow. Many television executives have discussed the importance of deep library titles as a churn-reducer—“the customer acquisition game is an originals game, but the customer retention game is a library game,” AT&T CEO John Stankey said in October—and Modern Family’s popularity is an almost sure-fire draw.

The 250-episode show ran for 11 seasons, beginning in 2009 and ending last spring, and helped bring in huge ratings on ABC along with numerous accolades, including more than two dozen Emmy Awards.  

How Modern Family will fit in

On Peacock, the show will join an already robust lineup of mockumentary sitcoms like The Office and family sitcoms like King of Queens.

Modern Family will be treated similarly to The Office, which debuted on the service in January with bonus content, episode collections and other behind-the-scenes content designed to appeal to the show’s biggest fans, said Val Boreland, the evp of content acquisitions at NBCUniversal Entertainment’s television and streaming division. The series will run with curated episode lists, and Disney is providing NBCUniversal with bonus footage and other extras.

“One thing people really appreciate about The Office is the ability to watch more, watch those bonus materials and extras, and that’s something we would like to engage Modern Family fans with as well,” Boreland said. “It’s something we talked about with Disney, because they were fans of what we did with The Office. They said, ‘Can you do that with Modern Family?’”

Hulu is taking a similar tack, and will offer viewers custom episode collections in addition to bonus content for fans on the service’s Modern Family show page.

The unusual nature of the joint distribution deal reflects some services’ shifting attitudes about show exclusivity, especially for library titles that may have a widespread appeal. While “exclusivity matters” when it comes to original shows, that distinction is less crucial when it comes to library titles, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment head Craig Erwich previously told reporters.

“Modern Family is a show we can easily share with Hulu, and I think that with Peacock, it’s really going to be all about the experience,” Boreland said.

Peacock, which NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in December had more than 26 million sign-ups, is aggressively building out its live sports offering with additions like WWE and NBCSN sports programming. Hulu, meanwhile, is looking for even more sustained growth under Disney’s broader direction. In early December, the service had 38.8 million subscribers.