‘CSI’ Fans Can Watch on Hulu in CBS Deal for On-Demand Rights

Crime-show lovers will soon be able to watch more than 300 episodes of one of TV’s most popular murder-mystery series on demand for the first time ever.

Hulu LLC acquired exclusive rights to stream past seasons of CBS Corp.’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the companies said Thursday in a statement. All episodes will be available in early April to subscribers of the $7.99-a-month Hulu Plus service.

The deal marks the first time the popular “CSI” franchise, which has spawned multiple spinoffs, has been licensed to an on-demand video subscription service. It’s also a boon for Hulu, which has been luring viewers who either don’t want pricey cable TV or are willing to pay for the streaming site to catch up on past episodes of their favorite shows.

“We have taken a strategically conservative approach to streaming past seasons of current shows,” CBS Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said last week on the company’s earnings call. “We’re seeing more and more that streaming the right shows brings new audiences into the mix, and then brings those viewers to the screen for the latest episodes. And those viewers are often younger and more affluent.”

The rights to “CSI” are part of an expanded partnership between Hulu and CBS. Hulu has also acquired non-exclusive rights to CBS shows such as “The Good Wife” and “Blue Bloods,” and exclusive rights to past seasons of “Elementary.” CBS is also in talks with an unnamed streaming service to license “NCIS” this year, Moonves said last week.

The New York-based company is the only major broadcaster that doesn’t have an equity stake in closely held Hulu. Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc. and Comcast Corp. all have stakes in the streaming site.

“CSI,” which centers around a group of forensic scientists who solve murders in Las Vegas, has been the most-watched show in the world in past years, according to the statement.

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