NBCUniversal is officially launching a streaming service next year, so what does that mean for the One Chicago franchise shows?
NBCUniversal has confirmed the rumors that it’s starting its own streaming service, beginning in 2020. What does that mean for One Chicago fans and their ability to watch Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med online?
Nothing will change until next year, but it’s impossible to think that NBC‘s biggest franchise won’t be part of its new digital plans. And there are multiple ways that the company could play this, all of which would have a big effect on the fans.
No details about the new streaming service have been announced yet, so there’s no official word on what will happen, but there are a couple of different options that would make varying degrees of sense.
Currently, Chicago PD, Chicago Med and Chicago Fire are available for free streaming on Hulu, but only in a limited capacity. Fans can only watch the five latest episodes of each show.
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NBCUniversal owns a percentage stake in Hulu, so it’s unlikely that they’d totally pull the One Chicago shows off that platform; they’d be taking content away from one of their businesses to start another one.
But there’s a big opportunity here: they could put previous seasons on their own platform.
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The Hulu setup has long been frustrating to fans who want to watch older episodes, either because they’re new to the franchise or just want to go back to an earlier season.
Many of them aren’t interested in paying to purchase episodes through existing sources like iTunes or YouTube, especially if they just want to watch them once.
So if NBCUniversal makes all of the previous episodes of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago PD available for streaming, that could make their platform incredibly attractive to viewers.
Of course that will come with a catch—the NBC streaming service won’t be free, so those fans will have to pay a monthly fee for access to that back catalog.
But paying $9.99 a month to stream all the episodes may be more attractive to some people than paying $1.99 per episode to own them. For the price of purchasing five episodes on iTunes, you’d conceivably be able to watch more than 100 streaming (as long as you had an active subscription of course!)
NBC’s other option is to ditch Hulu entirely and make One Chicago episodes exclusive to their new service. That would be awkward because of the ownership stake, but not implausible; since they only provide a limited number of episodes to Hulu anyway, maybe they’ll decide it’s not a big deal.
We’ll keep you posted as more information develops, but it looks like there’s going to be changes to how you watch One Chicago shows online in 2020.