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The streaming TV space will get a little more competitive with the forthcoming launch of Hulu’s new skinny bundle.
CEO Mike Hopkins revealed Wednesday morning that the new service, which will offer programming from CBS, Fox, Disney and Turner, will be priced competitively at under $40 a month. Sling currently offers the cheapest plan, $20 a month for about 30 channels. AT&T had the best value service with its $35-a-month DirecTV Now plan of more than 100 channels but will increase the price to $60 later this month.
No matter the final price of Hulu’s service, it will come with access to the company’s $8-a-month streaming video-on-demand plan, which includes a limited number of advertisements. Hopkins also has announced that Hulu has been building a cloud DVR service that will be part of the live TV offering.
Hulu executives are attending CES in Las Vegas this week to tout the new service and show off early demos of the product, which Hopkins said will be highly personalized. “Most important is the customer experience,” he said Wednesday at the Citi Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, which is happening in Las Vegas the same time as CES. He added that live TV couldn’t just be built “on top of our existing interface.”
Hopkins, a rare speaker on the investor conference circuit, noted that live TV streaming is becoming competitive. PlayStation, Dish and AT&T all have products on the market, and Google-owned YouTube is expected to come out with its service around the same time that Hulu’s launches. “You’re going to try each of these out,” Hopkins acknowledged. “Our job is to provide an experience that’s so great and seamless that they decide to stay.”
A big part of what will make the service successful is what programming it offers. Hulu earlier this year sold a 10 percent stake to Time Warner in a deal that also included adding Turner’s suite of channels, such as CNN, Cartoon Network and TNT, to the live streaming service. Hulu has struck deals with part-owners Fox and Disney. And on Wednesday, the company announced a deal with CBS to bring the broadcast network and a handful of cable channels to the offering. Hopkins said that Hulu is in “active discussions” with part-owner NBCUniversal about adding their channels to the lineup.
Hulu is continuing to invest in its SVOD products, too. Hopkins said that its original programming investment will double this year as it debuts projects that include The Handmaid’s Tale and Seth Rogen comedy Future Man.
The exec wouldn’t comment specifically on Hulu’s latest financials. But Hopkins did say that the company’s subscriber base and revenues were growing “in excess of 30 percent annually.” Hulu last announced in May that it would surpass 12 million subscribers soon.
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