In a further demonstration of how a little-seen TV show can have a second life once its cast members hit the big time, Party Down is about to cater to users of Hulu.com – the online, ad-supported, on-demand streaming website. The channel has obtained the exclusive streaming rights to the entire series, which originally debuted on Starz in 2009. The first 5 episodes will be available for a limited time on Hulu.com, with the whole thing becoming available on Hulu Plus from August 29th, 2014.
Party Down is a comedy show that follows a group of wannabe actors who are trying to make it big in Hollywood, but instead find themselves working for a Los Angeles catering company to make ends meet. With 20 episodes over 2 seasons, the show was created by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and starred Lizzy Caplan (Masters Of Sex), Jane Lynch (Glee), Adam Scott (Parks And Recreation), Ken Marino (Wanderlust), Martin Starr (This Is The End), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars) and Megan Mullaly (Will And Grace). Series directors included Fred Savage (star of The Wonder Years), Ken Marino, David Wain (They Came Together) and Rob Thomas.
The acquisition is a bold move by Hulu, and is perhaps an attempt to keep up with its competitors – many of whom have employed similar strategies. Yahoo! Screen recently seized upon the beloved show Community – ordering a sixth season after NBC cancelled it at the end of season five – and Netflix enjoyed one of its biggest weekends in May 2013 when it streamed all-new episodes of the short-lived but popular 2003 comedy series Arrested Development. It seems that these digital platforms are fully embracing their advantageous positions, being unhindered by network restrictions, and are responding to audiences in a more flexible way.
Whether Party Down achieves the same kind of viewership for Hulu remains to be seen. While the initial five episodes will be available for free on the main website, Hulu Plus provides selected content and an expanded library, but still contains commercials, despite being a monthly subscription service. It is also only available in the US, its territories, and Japan. More likely, this new acquisition is the first step of many in a game of catch-up. Where Yahoo! Screen and Netflix have been reviving popular departed shows by commissioning new episodes, Hulu is – for the moment at least – simply offering up the original for a second look. It’s great news for Party Down fans, however, and great news for the show itself, which may find a whole new audience with this new lease of life.