Hulu has just announced an agreement with NBCUniversal that will result in channels including NBC, Telemundo, USA, E!, Syfy, Bravo, and the MSBNC and CNBC news networks becoming part of Hulu’s soon-to-launch streaming TV service.
“Hulu will soon provide an affordable, complete live TV package that includes all four major broadcast networks, the top-rated cable news channels, a massive sports offering, and our deep existing premium streaming library for under $40,” CEO Mike Hopkins said in a press release. Importantly, the deal also includes a framework for getting NBC’s affiliates around the country on board with Hulu’s service.
That monthly price Hopkins mentioned has been rumored to be $39.99, so while Hopkins is technically correct, it would place Hulu above the starting price of Sling TV, the cheapest of the streaming, live TV offerings. Sling doesn’t include all four broadcast networks for that price, however. The more recent YouTube TV does, and it costs $35 per month.
Hulu has already signed on numerous other broadcasters and networks including CBS, The Walt Disney Company (which would cover ABC, Disney Channel, and ESPN), 21st Century Fox, Turner Networks, and A+E Networks.
The company has said its live TV service will launch sometime this spring. Hulu plans to differentiate itself from the wave of other internet TV products with a unique user experience and its strong back catalog of on-demand content. Whereas many consumers might not associate YouTube with traditional television, Hulu has stronger brand recognition there; it’s already where a lot of people go for next-day reruns — and now, at last, well-received original shows that can actually stand up to those from Netflix and Amazon.
Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, is a partial owner of Hulu. But the megacorp is a silent partner and unable to influence Hulu’s business direction; those terms were imposed as part of Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. Hulu had to negotiate this deal with NBCUniversal like any other partner.