CBS Joining Hulu's Live Television Service

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Hulu

The broadcaster joins Hulu owners Disney, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner in the skinny TV bundle.

After a period of negotiations, CBS Corp. is nearing a deal to offer some of its channels as part of Hulu's planned live TV streaming service, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed on Wednesday morning. 

The deal includes CBS as well as some cable channels including CBS Sports Network and Pop, with the potential to add additional networks in the future. Programming from those channels will be available live. Hulu says much of it will also be offered on-demand. 

Programs offered will include CBS' NFL game broadcasts and the Grammys. In addition, live TV subscribers will be able to add a Showtime subscription to their package, a feature currently offered to Hulu's on-demand subscribers. 

If you're going to launch a TV bundle, "you have to have the best content," Hopkins said on the morning of Jan. 4 at the Citi Internet, Media & Telecommunications conference. 

Hulu has been putting the pieces in place for its live TV bundle since last spring, when it first announced its plans. In November, it revealed that it had struck deals with part-owners 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. to add their channels to the service. A deal earlier this year in which Time Warner took a 10 percent stake in Hulu also brings the company channels, including TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network, to the service. 

NBCUniversal, a part-owner that operates as a silent partner alongside Fox and Disney, is the only major broadcaster that has yet to announce a deal with Hulu. But Hopkins says that they are in "active discussions" and he is "confident we'll work something out." 

Hulu has yet to offer full details about the service. On Wednesday, Hopkins said that it would be priced under $40 and would include a membership to Hulu's $8-a-month streaming service. He also said that the service would launch in the next couple of months, keeping consistent with earlier remarks that it would be available in early 2017. 

A number of Hulu executives are in Las Vegas for the CES conference this week to tout the new service and are offering early demos of the product, which will also include a cloud DVR feature. 

CBS currently offers its own live and on-demand TV product, All Access, but CEO Leslie Moonves has said that he would bring the broadcaster's channels to other bundles for the right price. In the case of new live streaming entrants, that means in the $3 to $4 per subscriber range. 

"Hulu has made it clear that it understands the value that the CBS Television Network, along with Showtime and our basic cable network portfolio, will bring to this new offering," said Ray Hopkins, president of television networks distribution at CBS. "In addition, today's announcement represents another significant step in our strategy to deliver CBS' industry leading content to viewers whenever and wherever they want to watch it, at terms that are consistent with the company's goals." 

In order to keep All Access competitive, CBS is not expected to offer full on-demand access to current seasons of its shows on live streaming TV services like Hulu. Instead, it will offer a limited on-demand library. 

Wall Street Journal first reported on the CBS deal with Hulu. 

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