Hulu, Peacock to Share Streaming Rights to ‘Modern Family’

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Comcast Corp.’s Peacock and Walt Disney Co.’s Hulu have struck a deal to share the rights to the sitcom “Modern Family,” an unusual move at a time when streaming services are paying top dollar to air old network comedies exclusively on their platforms.

All 11 seasons of the show will be available to subscribers of both services starting Feb. 3, the companies said in a statement. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

While Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Disney will share the streaming rights to “Modern Family,” Peacock plans to present the show in unique ways, said Matt Strauss, chairman of NBCUniversal’s direct-to-consumer business.

For example, a dozen episodes of “Modern Family” will be available on Peacock’s free tier, he said, with the rest being available to those who pay for the $4.99-a-month premium version. Peacock will also limit commercial time for “Modern Family” on its service to 60 seconds an episode, or less than the five-minutes-an-hour cap that Peacock puts on other programming.

Paid Tier

The paid tier of Peacock -- with all episodes of the show -- is free to cable subscribers of Comcast, Cox Communications Inc. and Charter Communications Inc.’s Spectrum. And besides Peacock, NBCUniversal also owns the cable channels USA and E!, which both air old episodes of “Modern Family” and will promote the show’s availability on Peacock as a marketing tool.

“Not every piece of content has to be exclusive,” Strauss said. “We believe we can get the de facto exclusive by how we go to market with something. It will be differentiated in how we make it available.”

It’s not the first time the two services have agreed to share a show. The hit NBC comedy “30 Rock,” for example, is also available on Hulu and Peacock.

Old network comedies have become valuable in the streaming era. AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max and Peacock paid hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to stream the shows “Friends” and “The Office” exclusively on their services.

Fox-Produced Show

“Modern Family” premiered in 2009. It ended its network run last spring on ABC and has been in syndication for years. It was produced by 20th Television, which Disney acquired when it bought most of the former 21st Century Fox Inc. in 2019.

Why wouldn’t Disney want to keep “Modern Family” for itself? The company already sold cable syndication rights to NBCUniversal, so Disney decided to keep the partnership going on streaming.

Hulu previously offered the sitcom on a next-day basis when it aired originally, said Brian Henderson, vice president of the streaming service’s content partnerships, and now he hopes it can find new fans.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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