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Hulu lands The Walking Dead spin-off and other AMC shows — but there's a catch

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There's no doubt about it: Hulu is getting aggressive. Along with sewing up the subscription streaming rights for the TV classic Seinfeld, the service has also signed a deal with AMC Networks that will make it the exclusive streaming home for the network's new programming, including the upcoming spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead. But as with all things, it's important to check the fine print.

The blanket deal covers all primetime scripted drama and comedy shows from the many channels that fall under the AMC Networks banner. That includes BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, and, of course, AMC itself. It's a lot of potential programming — but the Hulu deal only applies to new and upcoming series. So while the deal lets Hulu snatch away Fear the Walking Dead from the likes of Netflix and Amazon, it has no impact on Mad Men. Or Breaking Bad. Or just the regular vanilla The Walking Dead.

No 'Mad Men' or 'Breaking Bad'

That could potentially make the deal a lot less interesting, because while AMC's original programming got off to a fast start thanks to Don Draper and Walter White, its more recent shows haven't made the same impression. Series like Turn and Halt and Catch Fire received second seasons — I personally loved Fire — but they didn't capture the cultural zeitgeist like the best TV shows do. Instead, AMC has been relying on spin-offs like Better Call Saul and the above-referenced Fear the Walking Dead to really get people interested.

Now, AMC could turn things around creatively, suddenly surprising everyone with a fresh slate of incredible new programming that gives Hulu massive leverage with consumers. But until that happens, the Hulu deal — while certainly indicative of the service's focus on becoming a real player — is exciting only in theory.