Hulu Bringing CBS-Owned Networks to Live TV Service, Which Will Be Priced 'Under $40' Per Month
Hulu and CBS have reached an agreement that will bring CBS-owned channels to Hulu's upcoming live-streaming service, as well as grant subscribers on-demand access to recent episodes of popular CBS shows like Mom and The Big Bang Theory (via The Wall Street Journal). Full access to current and past seasons of these shows will remain on CBS All Access.
The current deal includes user access to CBS Sports Network and Pop, a pop culture focused network, with the potential for more CBS networks -- like CBS’s Smithsonian Channel and The CW -- to be added down the line. Although unspecified, it's also predicted that Hulu will continue to offer the CBS-owned premium network Showtime as an add-on within its new live-streaming package. Current Hulu subscribers can purchase Showtime for $8.99 on top of their monthly Hulu cost.
According to people close to the deal, CBS will receive "more than $3 per monthly subscriber" at the service's launch, with the multiyear contract signaling the potential for the network's take to rise above $4.
The streaming service aims to offer a more personalized, intuitive version of cable TV than that offered by traditional pay-TV distributors and even newer streaming entrants. At launch, Hulu’s offering will also include a cloud-based digital video recorder and many local station affiliates.
CBS’s pact with Hulu shows that at least for now the network is finding a way to have its cake and eat it, too—striking deals with distributors while maintaining a stand-alone streaming service with some 1.2 million subscribers. Moreover, the deal with Hulu involves CBS’s direct rivals; the streaming service is owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner.
During the announcement at an investor conference this week, Hulu Chief Executive Mike Hopkins also mentioned that the service is set to cost users "under $40" per month. The service will include Hulu's existing video content library as well, which now includes a wide selection of movies from Disney.
Word of Hulu's upcoming live-streaming service began spreading last May, when it was said that the company's new subscription plan would directly introduce it as "a competitor to traditional pay-TV providers," in addition to on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Hulu's unnamed cable-like service will now be backed with channels from CBS, Walt Disney, Time Warner, Fox, and NBC.
Hulu will be entering a steadily growing and competitive market with its live-streaming service. Both Sling TV and DirecTV NOW are available to users on the iOS and Apple TV App Stores for streaming and viewing live television networks without the need for a traditional cable subscription. In the past, Apple tried to launch its own $30-$40 TV service but became "frustrated" and ultimately shelved the plans after failing to find mutually advantageous ways to work with network programmers.