The battle for tight space on Hulu’s upcoming online live TV service has seen A+E Networks edge out rival Viacom channels in the planned package of more than 40 live channels, offering subscribers access to popular shows like History’s Vikings and Lifetime’s UnReal.
“As we begin to finalize our new live TV service, we’re pulling together the most valuable, well-rounded package of channels available for under $40,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, on Friday in a statement. “We know the A+E Networks brand of award-winning storytelling is important to our viewers, and we’re very excited to add their networks to the core service we launch this spring.”
Hulu’s video streaming service will carry six A+E networks at launch, including History, Lifetime, LMN, FYITM and Viceland. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Hulu to offer our A+E Networks’ portfolio of brands on their live TV streaming service at launch,” said Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+E Networks, in her own statement.
Viacom, which had been in the running to get its brands on Hulu’s core package of more than 40 channels, instead opted to remain on the sidelines. “We currently have distribution with the largest virtual MVPDs, and are engaged in ongoing conversations with a spectrum of new, emerging digital distributors as we execute against our recently announced strategy,” Viacom told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.
Hulu has been putting the pieces in place for its live TV bundle since spring 2016, when it first announced its plans. Last November, it revealed deals with part-owners 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. to add their channels to the service.
Another deal saw Time Warner take a 10 percent stake in Hulu and also bring its channels, including TNT, CNN and Cartoon Network, to the service. Hulu’s new service will offer subscribers a skinny bundle of TV programming for under $40 per month.
There’s competition in the cable-style online TV space from Sling TV and AT&T with its DirecTV Now service, and Google-owned YouTube plans its own service.