Hulu is turning up the heat on, well, everybody, announcing today that it’s signed Disney and Fox to its live streaming service it plans to deploy early next year.
The deal means Hulu will add Fox’s entertainment, news, sports and non-fiction services, as well as Disney’s portfolio of networks from Disney/ABC Television Group and ESPN Inc. to the line-up of programming that will be available to stream live and on-demand through Hulu’s new TV streaming service, set to launch in early 2017.
Included in the agreements are more than 35 networks, including broadcast networks FOX and ABC; Fox Sports networks such as the Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and BTN; ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN-SEC and ESPN 3; Fox Regional Sports Networks across dozens of key national markets; Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior; Fox News and Fox Business; Freeform; FX, FXX and FXM, and National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild.
Hulu already has an affiliate agreement with Time Warner for live and on-demand streaming of Turner networks including TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.
“We’re building a service that offers subscribers the most sought-after programming on television -- and channels from 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are essential to that mix,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu. “With these two new deals in place, and additional partners to come, Hulu will soon give TV fans of all ages live and on-demand access to their favorite programs in a whole new, more flexible, highly personalized way.”
No mention, yet, of CBS or NBC, but NBCUniversal is part of the group that owns Hulu (along with 21st Century Fox, Disney and Time Warner, which bought a 10% share in August), so that announcement likely isn’t too far off.
A deal with CBS also has yet to be announced. CBS does, however, have a deal with Google’s planned Cloud TV play, Unplugged, but it has yet to sign with AT&T’s virtual play, DirecTV Now, which apparently is set to roll out this month, sans CBS and FOX.
AT&T’s play will include 100-odd channels for $35, including content from Disney, HBO, Discovery, NBC, Turner, Scripps, Starz, AMC, A&E and Viacom.
CBS, however, has signed a deal to be part of a live Google streaming product, Unplugged, that’s expected to launch early next year.
And, of course, it operates its own streaming service, CBS All Access.
Well, maybe, but it’s a longshot that Apple will end up owning a piece of the live streaming Cloud TV space, unless it does a major about face.
Already serving the market are Sling TV and Sony PlayStation Vue, although neither has total buy in from the Big 4 networks.
And, increasingly, cable operators are finally putting together their own truly skinny bundles to stream, rather than pout through a set-top box. Charter, for example, has a $20/mo. package that includes all of the majors plus an array of must-haves, like ESPN and AMC.
With Hulu’s new deals in place (and the likelihood that NBU will opt in soon), it’s open season on pay-TV operators, all of whom have bright red bull’s-eyes squarely on their backs.
A la carte – at least a bastardized version of it – is here to stay.
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