Hulu announced Tuesday that Comedy Central was pulling its shows from the site beginning March 10. Both "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report consistently rank among Hulu's most watched programs.
Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom Inc., was a relatively late arrival to Hulu, which is co-owned by NBC Universal, Fox Entertainment Group and the Walt Disney Co. (which owns ABC). When "Colbert" and "The Daily Show" were added in June 2008, some technology blogs such as Techcrunch.com said it signified Hulu's arrival as the pre-eminent provider of TV programming on the Web.
In a blog post on Hulu, Andy Forssell, senior vice president of content and distribution at Hulu, offered a "fond farewell" to the Comedy Central shows, lamenting their exit.
"In the past 21 months, we've had very strong results for both Hulu and Comedy Central, in terms of the views and revenue we've generated," said Forssell. "After a series of discussions with the team at Comedy Central, though, we ultimately were unable to secure the rights to extend these shows for a much longer period of time."
But Forssell also said that Hulu and Comedy Central continue to talk about "a number of opportunities" and that he was confident Hulu will be working with them "in multiple ways in the future."
Comedy Central issued a statement that said its agreement with Hulu had "concluded," but the channel also suggested an amicable parting.
"We had a great experience with Hulu, and we hope to work with its team again in the future," said Comedy Central.
Viacom hasn't been shy about offering its programming on Web sites it owns. Full episodes of "The Daily Show" and "Colbert" are still offered by Comedy Central on each show's respective Web site. The shows were the first late-night talk programs to offer full-episode streaming online.
The exit by Comedy Central is a blow to Hulu, which has been increasingly gaining programming, not losing it, since it was launched in early 2007. The site has grown to feature more than 14,000 hours of original programming. More than 1 billion videos were viewed on the site in December, according to ComScore.