Hulu Enters The ‘Skinny Bundle’ Fray


With its adaptation of the Margaret Atwood dystopian classic “The Handmaid’s Tale” earning accolades — and new consumers — Hulu has leaped into the live TV streaming business with the launch of a new beta service and user experience now available to the public.

At its annual Upfront presentation to marketers and advertisers in New York, two weeks ahead of what is still considered Upfront Week in the TV world, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins revealed that for a monthly charge of $39.99, viewers can receive live and on-demand programming from upward of 50 channels.

That’s thanks to rights agreements with 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal, CBS Corp., Turner Networks, A+E Networks and Scripps Networks Interactive Channels.

The pact with Scripps is a result of a new affiliate agreement, allowing Hulu to bring HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network, to both Hulu’s new live service and existing premium streaming offering.

The new live service is billed as “Hulu with Live TV,” and includes full access to Hulu’s premium streaming library, 50 hours of recording storage, up to six individual profiles and two simultaneous streams per account. There are upgrade options that involve an enhanced Cloud DVR and unlimited in-home screens.

“Nearly a decade ago, Hulu forever redefined the way people watch TV,” Hopkins said. “Today, as we add live sports, news and entertainment and introduce a more intuitive Hulu, we want to redefine the way people experience TV. By bringing together thousands of live, on-demand and library shows and movies — and serving them up in a uniquely personalized way — Hulu can now be a viewer’s primary source of television. It’s a natural extension of our business and an exciting new chapter for Hulu.”

Ben Smith, Hulu’s SVP and Head of Experience, added, “We have always believed that TV should fit your lifestyle, not the other way around. You shouldn’t have to think about whether something is live, recorded or on demand, or care about which device you’re using. TV is about connecting with the shows, movies and sports you love – and we want to make that really easy for you, no matter where you’re watching.”

With today’s launch, Hulu takes a step ahead of rivals Amazon Video and Netflix by taking a page from iHeartRadio, of all companies. That’s because Hulu is now the lone pay-TV service to offer live and on demand channels, original series and films, and a library of premium streaming TV shows and movies, all in one place.

The iHeartRadio app is the lone option for live radio streaming, in addition to on-demand subscription-based content access.

Aside from the Scripps channels, the “Hulu with Live TV” beta will include CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and TNT, as well as regional sports networks available in many markets; news and political chat channels CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and MSNBC; lifestyle channels Bravo, E!, Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel; and such networks as A&E, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, HISTORY, Lifetime, National Geographic, TBS, USA Network, and Viceland.

Aside from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Hulu Originals include “The Path” and the former FOX sitcom “The Mindy Project.”