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Hulu Developing Online TV service

2 May, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Hulu is reportedly developing an online “skinny bundle” pay-TV service that would operate similarly to Dish Network’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Charter’s Spectrum TV Plus. It is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017.

The $40 Hulu online TV service would attempt to market Disney (notably ESPN and Disney Channel), Fox and other pay-TV channels to an estimated 10 million to 15 million broadband-only households. This allegedly “underserved” market drove Time Warner and CBS to launch over-the-top services HBO Now and Showtime OTT, respectively.

First reported by The Wall Street Journal — the service would not include Comcast-owned NBC TV, despite the fact Comcast co-owns Hulu as a silent partner with The Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox. Comcast remains an ardent supporter of traditional pay-TV (and TV Everywhere) distribution, rebuffing industry efforts embracing third-party subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

But Fox — under a mandate by chairman Rupert Murdoch — has aggressively sought to move Hulu up the SVOD podium (and beyond 10 million subscribers) as a significant competitor to Netflix and Prime Video. Run by former Fox executive Mike Hopkins, Hulu has dramatically increased original and third-party content (“Seinfeld”) licensing, in addition to subcontracting and bundling the SVOD service to pay-TV operators with Showtime OTT.

Earlier this year, Hulu received its first Golden Globe nomination, for original comedy "Casual." Netflix has won awards for original series "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards," and Amazon Prime Video for "Transparent" and "Mozart in the Jungle," respectively.

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