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Hulu could soon launch new service with live TV, sports

Posted May 5

If you love the idea of cutting the cord but hate waiting until the day after an episode airs to watch, you might have a new option in the coming year. (Deseret Photo)

If you love the idea of cutting the cord but hate waiting until the day after an episode airs to watch, you might have a new option in the coming year.

Hulu, one of the largest providers of online streaming with nearly 9 million subscribers, is working to create a new service that offers live cable and broadcast TV, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. People close to the company said Hulu is currently working on the plans with hopes of launching the service in the first quarter of 2017.

While other companies have attempted to bring traditional TV programing straight to the internet as it airs, Hulu may have the best shot since it is jointly owned by major network providers Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox. Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also a silent partner.

The development comes as traditional pay-TV providers are struggling to maintain their customers. Over the course of 2015, the 13 biggest providers — including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirectTV — lost an estimated 385,000 subscribers, according to the Leichtman Research Group. The number of losses dropped from 2014, but continued the trend of recent years.

At the same time, the Leichtman Research Group reported on April 22 that there are currently fewer pay-TV set-top boxes in American households than internet-connected TVs. Their researchers found 65 percent of television owners in the U.S. have at least one internet-connected TV in their house, with 70 percent agreeing that streaming services similar to Netflix are easy to use.

Hulu’s new service is expected to offer ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Fox’s broadcast network, Fox News and FX, in addition to national and regional sports channels from Fox, according to the WSJ. The report said that at this point, it does not appear NBCUniversal would contribute content to the live service.

If Hulu does launch the service, it would likely cost more than its current $7.99 basic plan. A media analyst from Sanford C. Bernstein told the WSJ he estimated the live streaming package could cost $40 per month, which “an executive close to Hulu” said was in the correct range.

In its present form, Hulu offers some free video content but focuses on pushing its two subscription plans. It has streamed over 700 million hours of content and has over 500 content partners, according to its website.

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