At its annual "upfront" presentation to advertisers on Wednesday, streaming service Hulu unveiled its secret weapon, aimed at capturing the hearts and subscription dollars of millions of millennials: Jerry Seinfeld.



Yep, the cornerstone of the strategy behind what Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins calls "the year Hulu will break out" is the site's acquisition of "Seinfeld" reruns. Hulu will have exclusive streaming rights to all 180 episodes of the landmark sitcom.



Now, granted, that's a pretty big deal, especially since Hulu paid an estimated $700,000 to $1 million per episode, for a total expenditure of $126 to $180 million. That's a lotta yada yada.



But, c'mon... "Seinfeld" reruns?



Yes, "Seinfeld" is a great show, maybe the greatest sitcom ever. Most of the episodes hold up surprisingly well, considering that the show went off the air 17 years ago. But are two-decade-old reruns the way to grab the primarily young viewers that Hulu and its advertisers want?



Sure, Netflix made a big splash when it made available all 10 seasons of "Friends" recently, another singles-in-1990s-Manhattan sitcom that used to share Must-See Thursdays on NBC with "Seinfeld." But Netflix has plenty of other buzzworthy shows -- not just old reruns, but also acclaimed original programming, from already well-established series like "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" to much-loved newcomers like "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and "Daredevil." And Netflix also seems to introduce a new, high-profile show just about every month. (Coming up this month: it's "Grace and Frankie," reuniting "9 to 5" stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.)



Netflix's big rival these days isn't Hulu but Amazon Prime, which has nearly as big a library of TV shows and movies and also has a much-touted flagship original show, the award-winning "Transparent." The rest of its original series don't get nearly the hype that Netflix's shows do, but at least the subscription service has a clever gimmick in its regular pilot-season promotions, where users get to watch trial episodes of potential series and vote on which ones Amazon should greenlight for full seasons. On top of that, there's Prime's perks, including free shipping on many items sold by the giant retailer.



What's Hulu got to match all that? It does have the entire "South Park" archive -- at least that show is still generating new episodes every year. It has next-day viewing of a lot of current network and cable series. It has a lot of original shows that you've never heard of. It has a deal with Cablevision, the New York metro area cable provider, to provide on-demand programming to Cablevision subscribers -- the kind of deal that might help Cablevision and other providers keep young, tech-savvy viewers from cutting the cord. And now, it has "Seinfeld."



Hulu also has some original shows coming up that sound promising. At the upfront on Wednesday, J.J. Abrams and James Franco showed up to tout "11/22/63," their series based on the Stephen King novel about a man who travels back in time and tries to prevent the JFK assassination. Amy Poehler came to promote her show "Difficult People," along with comics Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner. Filmmaker Jason Reitman was there to push his show "Casual," and Jason Katims (showrunner of "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood") came to sell his new family drama, "The Way."



These are certainly some talented folks who seem to know how to make compelling TV. And they're not cheap. But then, Hulu has to dip into its $750 million war chest if it wants to catch up to Netflix and Amazon.



It's paradoxical that Hulu should have to play catch-up at all. The site launched officially back in 2008, around the same time that Netflix began transitioning from a DVD delivery service to a streaming video platform. Amazon Prime got into the game later, but Amazon's retail business gives it plenty of cash to throw at talent for new programming and syndication for existing shows. So does Netflix, which has a subscriber base of 41 million in the U.S. and millions more around the world. Hulu's American subscriber base is just 9 million.



Why is Hulu so far behind its competitors? For a long time, it was the go-to site for archival shows and especially embeddable clips from those shows. (Especially shows seemingly made for shareable clips, like "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live."). But it was slow to move into original programming, and when it did, it wasn't spending the kind of money needed to create shows whose production values, writing, and acting were the equal of those on premium cable, the way Netflix and Amazon did.



True, that sort of programming is expensive, but Hulu is backed by some major conglomerates with deep pockets. What's more, those conglomerates are corporations like Fox and Disney, content companies that already have deals with top talents. It's good that Hulu now has people like Abrams, Poehler, and Katims on board, but it should have had them years ago.



No doubt Hulu is paying these creators big bucks for their services, but it's not paying any of them "Seinfeld" money.



To be fair, the streaming business is mutating quickly. Apparently, it's changing so fast that even major players who were there since day one can't keep up. (It's not like Netflix and Amazon haven't had their stumbles. Remember Qwikster? Probably not.)



At least Hulu has the technology it needs to move forward. And it has a solid foundation in its vast library of current and recent series. But it might take more than "Seinfeld" reruns for Hulu to win the contest for streaming supremacy and become master of its domain.