Hulu might be thanking Cookie on this historic occasion.
Hot off Wednesday's two-hour season finale of Fox's "Empire," the streaming site announced it has secured exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to this season's breakout series.
Hulu's multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution, which produces the music drama, gives subscribers access to all past and future episodes of the series.
The five most recent episodes have been available on Hulu.com for free. This deal now makes the entire 12-episode first season available for subscribers to stream on Hulu with a Plus subscription ($7.99 per month). Future episodes of the show, which has already been renewed for a second season, will be available on Hulu Plus the day after they are broadcast on Fox.
Hulu, which is a joint venture of Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast's NBCUniversal, has something to sing about in signing the big star to its roster. "Empire," from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, has emerged as the season's "It" show. The drama has grown week to week in the ratings since its January launch -- a feat not achieved on broadcast in the 20-plus years Nielsen has been measuring total viewership.
Wednesday’s two-hour finale hit season highs and came out on top in key demos — adults 18 to 49 and adults 18 to 34 -- and total viewers. In the 8-10 p.m. hours it logged a whopping 16.5 million viewers, and was up 79% from its premiere in the 18-49 demo.
The Nielsen superstar and pop culture phenomenon, led by Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, has also hit some high notes on digital platforms. The series premiere garnered about 5.6 million viewers via video-on-demand services such as Hulu and Fox.com, a record for a Fox show. And its power there has continued as the season has progressed.
"'Empire' is truly a television phenomenon," said Craig Erwich, head of content at Hulu. "Since its premiere, the series has remained one of the top shows on Hulu and we are ecstatic to be the exclusive streaming home ot the biggest show of the year."
And Fox is hoping the ratings momentum will continue as folks get clued in with a bit of drip-drop viewing, or all-out bingeing -- or those just wanting to relive the best of Cookie.
"As interest in the show continues to explode, having a place for people to watch it from the beginning is extremely important to viewers and fans," said Gina Brogi, executive vice president of worldwide pay television and SVOD for 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.
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