Hulu live streaming service to get more than 50 NBCUniversal channels

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NBCUniversal deal with Hulu will bring sports and USA Network to channel lineup

A comprehensive agreement with NBCUniversal will bring a portfolio of more than 50 channels to Hulu’s new live TV streaming service this spring.

The channel lineup will include NBC, Telemundo, USA, Sprout, Syfy,  Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC, and NBCSN. The deal was announced on Monday.

A full channel lineup from the agreement has not yet been disclosed.

NBCSN, Golf Channel and NBC Sports Regional Networks in Chicago, Philadelphia, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Bay Area, California and Northwest are included in the new channel lineup. Hulu’s live-streaming service is expected to launch in the spring. The company is planning a price point of under $40 per month.

According to those who checked out demos at CES 2017, Hulu will offer two simultaneous streams, a Cloud DVR service plus on-demand TV shows.

The agreement also includes a framework for licensing the NBC and Telemundo broadcast affiliates on Hulu’s new service. “NBC Universal is home to many of today’s leading sports, news, entertainment and lifestyle networks – brands that not only draw large audiences but also drive pop culture,” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins in a statement. “With this agreement in place, 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.”

The deal follows Hulu’s recently announced agreement with A+E Networks, as well as its agreements with 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Turner Networks and CBS Corporation.

Hulu TV vs Sling TV, PlayStation Vue

Between Monday’s announcement and what’s known Hulu’s live streaming service, competitors on all fronts should be at least be a little worried.

Hulu is coming into the live streaming TV business with at least 12 million subscribers to its on-demand service.

The size of Hulu’s customer base was released last May. But even if those numbers have fluctuated some, the analysis remains the same.

For people who have hesitated to become full-on cord cutters, Hulu may prove to be the kind of entry-point that large cable companies have long feared.

Even if 5 percent of current Hulu subscribers tried out the new live TV service this spring, that’s 600,000 customers in the first quarter. From what I’ve read, those are numbers that DirecTV Now could only dream of.

Sling TV starts their plans at $20 per month. PlayStation Vue has an entry-level plan at $29.99. Both services appear to be fairly stable and invested in the live-streaming business for the long haul. fuboTV has also been little talked about. It’s definitely a service that intends to be a big player as it expands its channel lineup and app authentication.

Looking ahead

Mainstream media outlets have been wondering aloud whether cord cutting will cause a sudden demise of big cable companies like Comcast. Most of this speculation, to me, has been vastly overblown. But if Hulu doesn’t have any major stumbles with its rollout, it could be the snowfall that will one day cause an avalanche.

It’s no secret that millennials have little interest in traditional cable television. If Hulu creates a service that older customers can easily adopt, then big cable has a big problem.

(Pro-tip: Pissing off older people who can barely afford cable by jacking up rates doesn’t help.)

Cable companies already know this and they have been planning accordingly.

If you look at the current ownership makeup of Hulu, there will be some very familiar names. Time Warner acquired a 10 percent stake in Hulu last August for $583 million. Hulu is also owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast. So even if the day comes when traditional cable TV is no more, the businesses behind them are already shoring up their interests.

A powerfully backed Hulu also allows a league of old legacy companies to take on Netflix on many fronts. That includes licensing deals and acquiring original shows.


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