9:30 PM EDT, June 16, 2013
In a joint marketing stunt, Microsoft Xbox Live users will have one-week exclusive access to the premiere episode of Hulu original animated comedy "The Awesomes" before it becomes widely available Aug. 1.
"The Awesomes" was co-created and exec produced by Seth Meyers ("SNL") and Mike Shoemaker ("Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"). Half-hour laffer is produced by Broadway Video Entertainment, in partnership with animation studio Bento Box Entertainment.
"Having content on your 'channel' that is different from other 'channels' is hugely important," said Blair Westlake, corporate VP for Microsoft's Media & Entertainment Group.
Hulu will host a launch party for "The Awesomes" at Comic-Con International in San Diego in July. The first seg will be available ad-free to Xbox Live users July 25, before becoming available on Hulu and Hulu Plus Aug. 1 and the remaining nine episodes to follow weekly.
No money is changing hands between Hulu and Microsoft for the promo. For Hulu, the exclusive one-week window of "The Awesomes" on Xbox -- its first such platform-exclusive sampling -- is an opportunity to sign up console users to Hulu Plus, its $8 monthly service, which has been available on Xbox since April 2011.
Show was fit for Xbox because content that has performed well on the platform have skewed toward smart, funny animated comedies, according to Hulu interim CEO Andy Forrsell.
"The question is, how much do you give a subset of your audience exclusive access?" he said. "We'll experiment over time, but this one felt like an easy step. I think they can materially help the show take off."
In the U.S., Microsoft is estimated to have more than 20 million Xbox Live users; the company doesn't disclose subscriber figures by region. It has 48 million Xbox Live users worldwide.
Westlake compared the deal to HBO offering a free weekend preview with a cable operator. Microsoft separately has its own original content in development from Xbox Entertainment Studios, headed by Nancy Tellum, including a series based on the "Halo" videogame franchise produced by Steven Spielberg.
Hulu Plus earlier this year surpassed 4 million subscribers. Separately, two of the company's owners, News Corp. and Walt Disney Co., are in the process of selling their stakes in the Internet TV venture.
"The Awesomes" is about a superhero team of the same name, which has lost all of its most powerful members leave. In addition Meyers, other talent lending voice to the skein include "SNL" cast and alumni Kenan Thompson, Bill Hader and Taran Killam.
Series was originally in development at MTV before Hulu picked it up last year with multiyear exclusive pact for digital distribution.
Watch the trailer for "The Awesomes":
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