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Hulu CEO confirms plans for a live TV streaming service in 2017

TechCrunch TechCrunch 4/05/2016 Sarah Perez

This morning at the Hulu Upfronts in New York, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed the recent report from The Wall St. Journal which indicated that the company was developing a live television streaming service to complement its current on-demand offering. While Hopkins was light on details like pricing, content, channel selection, and product, he did say that the new service would arrive in 2017.

The service will offer a combination of feeds from broadcast television and cable TV, the CEO said.

“This means our viewers will be able to enjoy live sports, news and events all in real-time without a traditional cable or satellite subscription,” said Hopkins. “We’re going to fuse the best of linear television and on-demand in a deeply personalized experience optimized for the contemporary, always-connected television fan.”

The service will allow viewers to watch their favorite shows and cheer for their favorite teams, he also pointed out.

Access to live sports content is something that competitors like Amazon and Netflix don’t offer today, but other live TV streaming services like Sony’s Vue or Dish’s Sling TV do.

The Wall St. Journal’s report had said that channels like ABC, ESPN, Disney, Fox, Fox News, FX and Fox’s sports channels, would be included but said that NBCUniversal hadn’t yet agreed to participate.

However, a later report from Variety, noted that talks between NBCUniversal and Hulu were in the early stages of “active negotiations.” If NBCUniversal agreed to join, it could bring a number of popular cable TV channels including Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, and USA.

Viewers of the live TV service will be able to watch television much like they could with a pay TV subscription, but would also have access to some on-demand programming in order to catch up on favorite shows. It’s unclear at this time if that on-demand library will mirror Hulu’s current catalog or if it will be a more limited selection.

There was no official word yet on pricing, but the earlier WSJ report stated it would be in the “ballpark” of $40 per month.

Hopkins said that more details would be announced this year, and there would be a lot of opportunities for advertisers to participate in the future.

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