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Cablevision Bows Hulu Plus Channel

7 Apr, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Cablevison has begun offering subscribers access to Hulu Plus as a dedicated channel via their set-top box. The Manhattan, N.Y.-based cabler with 2.5 million subs is offering the subscription streaming service through its broadband Optimum TV service as it does other premium pay-TV channels such as Showtime, HBO, Epix and Starz.

“As Hulu’s first cable distribution partner, Optimum is pleased to also be the first provider to offer the unique ability to access Hulu directly from the program guide,” Tom Montemagno, EVP of programming at Cablevision, said in a statement.

Hulu content can be viewed on Channel 605 or streamed on up to four third-party devices — an option targeting cord-cutters and millennials.

“Cord-cutters and price-conscious customers will find value in Hulu's large content library,” Cablevision said in a statement.

Indeed, Cablevision, which was acquired last year by French-based conglomerate Altice for $17.7 billion, was the first domestic cabler to offer direct access to Hulu to its Optimum subscribers. SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have experienced pushback from pay-TV operators unwilling to afford them access to their subs due to ongoing concerns regarding cord-cutting.

In 2014, Dish Network became the first major domestic multichannel video distributor to offer direct access to Netflix through an app embedded in its Hopper DVR. Direct access, which still required a separate Netflix subscription, enabled subs to link directly with Netflix rather than an alternative Internet connection such as a streaming media device, laptop or computer.

Netflix also inked direct-access deals with smaller cablers Atlantic Broadband, Grande Communications and RCN Telecom Services through subscribers’ TiVo boxes.

Netflix, which until then had unsuccessfully lobbied domestic pay-TV operators — notably Comcast — regarding direct access, gained its first pay-TV foothold in the U.K. via Virgin Media and separately in Sweden.

Meanwhile, Hulu and Showtime partnered, offering new Hulu Plus subs access to Showtime for $8.99 — nearly 20% below the normal monthly subscription rate.

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