The streaming service will make all 17 seasons available for free until the Sept. 24 premiere of the Comedy Central cartoon’s 18th season. After that, Hulu Plus subscribers will have access to the entire South Park library. New episodes will be available next day on both Hulu and Hulu Plus, the company announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Saturday.
Comedy Central currently offers streaming access for all 17 seasons on the South Park Studios website, which will continue to stream the full library until the season 18 premiere. The website will then transition to offering a revolving selection of free episodes, with video and advertising powered by Hulu.
“South Park has revolutionized TV and pushed boundaries with unparalleled topicality and daring humor,” said Hulu content chief Craig Erwich. “South Park has been one of the top 10 most popular shows of all time on the platform. We’re thrilled to offer the series to fans in its entirety.”
Added creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone: “This is a natural partnership for us. We are excited that the entire library will be available on Hulu and that the best technology around will power South Park Digital Studios.”
The deal is a key step in Hulu’s effort to broaden beyond next-day TV by building out a robust library of acquired content and originals. In his first year on the job, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins has made exclusive content a focus for the company, which inked an exclusive deal with NBCUniversal in April that included seasons of Fox’s The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Nashville and Elementary also stream exclusively on the platform. This is the first major licensing deal under Erwich, who joined Hulu in April.
Fellow animated series The Simpsons was made available to stream in full — all 530 episodes from 24 seasons — in January via the FXNOW “TV Everywhere” app. The rollout strategy is part of FXX’s November 2013 deal to acquire the off-net rights to long-running comedy series.
Parker and Stone took the stage at Hulu’s TCA presentation for a surprise Q&A panel, during which they addressed why they chose Hulu as the streaming home for their content, joking that they’ve wanted to create a knockoff of the Hulu video player for years.
“We were always looking at Hulu’s player with jealousy, with envy,” said Stone. “We want our show to always have the best possible presentation. I think in the back of our minds we were thinking about how we could partner with Hulu.”
Parker was enthusiastic about having the Hulu video player powering the streaming experience on the South Park Studios website. “South Park Studios will now work,” he said with a laugh.
Stone said that the duo is still determining how they will rotate episodes through the South Park Studios website, but noted that the goal is for viewers to visit the website every day to watch an episode or two without running out of new shows to watch.
Added Stone: “We’ve got 250 episodes now, so we’ve got plenty to feed different windows and different experiences.”