HBO Max and Hulu will share custody of Emmy-nominated series ‘Abbott Elementary’

In a bit of an unusual agreement, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that HBO Max will have joint streaming custody of the comedy series “Abbott Elementary” with Disney+’s sister streaming service Hulu. The two streaming giants will now share the hit ABC show on their competing services.

Hulu already has priority streaming rights over ABC programming, so the Disney-owned platform will continue to release episodes the day after it broadcasts on the television network. Once a season of “Abbott Elementary” is finished, it will then appear on the HBO Max platform.

HBO Max subscribers will be able to stream the entire first season (13 episodes) of “Abbott Elementary” on August 20.

The reason behind the move is to give first-time viewers who may not own a Hulu subscription a chance to see the show before the next season begins on the rival service. So, when season 2 releases on Hulu on September 22, HBO Max subscribers will have to wait for the finale until it comes to the service. Those who want to watch its season 2 premiere on September 21 can turn to ABC at 9 p.m. ET.

This deal is unlike most streaming arrangements. While these types of deals are what helped Netflix build its robust content library, this one is different because “Abbott Elementary” is produced by both Warner Bros. Television and Disney-owned 20th Television (formerly 20th Century Fox Television.)

Created by and starring Quinta Brunson—who rose to social media fame on Vine in 2014– the workplace comedy “Abbott Elementary” premiered in December 2021 and explores a group of teachers in an understaffed and underfunded Philadelphia public school attempting to help their students succeed even though the cards are stacked against them.

The show made Emmy history recently as Brunson was the first Black woman to receive three comedy nominations and is the youngest Black actress ever nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress comedy category. “Abbott Elementary” nabbed seven Emmy nominations overall. Also, Hulu reached a milestone of 58 Emmy nominations, compared to 26 last year.

The overall boom in streaming and the launch of well-fortified platforms have created a lot of buy-side demand for pre-sold titles. The competition among services has also created some really awkward situations.

Netflix has been known to grab big titles such as “The Office” and “Friends” which have now switched over to other streaming homes. Thanks to a 2017 agreement, “Schitt’s Creek” moved to Netflix from Pop TV, a pay TV channel owned by Paramount. This April, Hulu revealed that the show and all its six brilliantly written seasons are moving over to the streamer beginning October 3.

The streaming wars continue to ramp up and NBC Universal, like every other media company, is trying to beef up its content library for its service Peacock. The company terminated its licensing agreement with Hulu in March, taking back shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Voice.” Hulu still has the rights to older titles such as “Law & Order SVU,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “30 Rock,“ among others.

In February, Paramount Global took “South Park” from competitor HBO Max in a $500 million deal. The long-running comedy will stream exclusively on Paramount+ in 2025. “Harry Potter” is also leaving the service on August 30. The film franchise appeared on Peacock in the beginning of July.

When NBCUniversal took the streaming rights to “Yellowstone” in 2020, the show was brought to Peacock. Even though Paramount owns the rights, Paramount+ didn’t launch until the next year, which is why the company isn’t licensed to stream it on the platform. You can watch it on its linear channel Paramount Network.

Yesterday, Comcast released its second-quarter results, revealing that Peacock’s subscriber base has stalled to 13 million subscribers and losses widened to $467 million.

Hulu (Disney), HBO Max (Warner Bros. Discovery), and Paramount are set to release their quarterly earnings reports next week.

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