Here’s one way to cut down on international TV show piracy: Hulu Japan will begin showing new episodes of NBC’s Saturday Night Live just hours after the show airs on U.S. television. Hulu announced the deal on its Japanese blog Tuesday, adding one other interesting detail:
“Each SNL episode will be available in English hours after the initial US Broadcast. Japanese subtitles will be made available a few days later.”
Extended release windows for U.S. shows abroad have long been blamed for a lot of TV show piracy, and this deal shows one interesting approach to make content available legally.
However, don’t expect most other shows to become available in a similar fashion anytime soon: Hulu didn’t license Saturday Night Live from NBC, but struck the deal directly with the show’s independent production company Broadway Video. Hollywood’s major studios may be a little more hesitant to give up international windowing just yet. Case in point: Many of Hulu Japan’s other agreements, including a deal with HBO, only cover previous seasons.
The other question of course is how easily content like Saturday Night Live is going to translate to international audiences, even with localized subtitles. Hulu Japan focused heavily on U.S. content when it launched in the country with a subscription-only offering a year ago. It has since added a lot of Japanese content as well as reduced its monthly fees to attract more users, but recent reports indicate that Hulu’s investors haven’t been overly enthusiastic about Hulu’s international ambitions.