While streaming platform Hulu may have launched ten years ago under the collective auspices of corporations such as Disney, Fox, Warner and, notably NBCUniversal, it appears that television content from the latter will manifest in a big way on its recently-announced live-TV streaming service.
Hulu has announced what it calls “a comprehensive, new distribution agreement” that will provide live feeds for NBCU-owned channels available to stream on the platform’s upcoming live television venture. The move – seemingly contrary to NBCU’s parent company in cable giant Comcast – will essentially make Hulu a cord-cutting carriage deal for NBCU corporate cousins such as NBC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, E!, MSNBC, CNBC, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Telemundo and more to be revealed soon. The NBCU additions will raise Hulu’s live-TV total to 50 channels.
While Hulu is currently promoting its peak TV presence with the recent release of the misogynistic-dystopia series The Handmaid’s Tale, it will, by contrast, tout a sports-centric package deal priced “under $40,” in which customers will not only be able to stream NBCU channels live, notably yielding Sunday Night Football and Olympics coverage, but will also have access to Hulu’s existing premium streaming library. As Matt Bond, Chairman NBCUniversal Content Distribution, states:
“We’re pleased to partner with Hulu to make NBCUniversal’s leading portfolio of entertainment, news and sports networks available on this new service. Growing our audiences is an important priority and this partnership will help bring our networks to new customers.”
The move represents an intriguing development in the anti-cable/satellite cord-cutting saga, which has been making gains in recent years with traditional providers expanding their streaming offerings, joined by emerging platforms like Sony PlayStation, YouTube and HBO’s 2015-launched (Game of Thrones-touting,) standalone streaming service HBO Now, along with à la carte options such as the heavily-advertised Sling Television. While NBC’s network rival CBS is attempting to use franchise television relaunch Star Trek: Discovery as the enticing incentive for its own standalone streaming service CBS All Access, NBCU’s alliance with Hulu could be a major step in the evolution of content delivery.
While it will be a long while before traditional television services go away, the Hulu/NBCU alliance could be a potent canary in a rapidly evolving multimedia coalmine. It will certainly be interesting to see what distributive effect Hulu’s newly-empowered live-TV ambitions has on the industry.