Online video pioneer Hulu said it has signed agreements with 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Co., adding their more than 35 networks to the lineup of Hulu's much-anticipated streaming service, scheduled for an early 2017 launch.
“We’re building a service that offers subscribers the most sought-after programming on television -- and channels from 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company are essential to that mix,” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins in a statement. “With these two new deals in place, and additional partners to come, Hulu will soon give TV fans of all ages live and on-demand access to their favorite programs in a whole new, more flexible, highly personalized way.”
Hulu announced in May that it planned to launch a streaming virtual MVPD service by the first quarter of 2017 and at the time was working on carriage deals with its owners – Fox, Disney and Comcast’s NBC Universal. In August Hulu snagged an affiliate deal for carriage of Time Warner’s Turner networks for the service, including CNN, TNT, TBS Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner also purchased a 10% stake in the service for an estimated $580 million.
The Fox and Disney deals will give Hulu access to more than 35 top networks, including broadcast networks FOX and ABC; Fox Sports networks such as the Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and BTN; ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN-SEC and ESPN 3; Fox Regional Sports Networks across dozens of key national markets; Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior; Fox News and Fox Business; Freeform; FX, FXX and FXM, and National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild.
Update: Regarding access to live local TV feeds, the deal with Hulu covers ABC owned stations, and Disney/ABC is working with ABC affiliates so they can join the new Hulu service as well; and Hulu also expects to have Fox affiliates, as well as the O&Os on board at launch, according to people familiar with the new agreements.
--Multichannel News technology editor Jeff Baumgartner contributed to this report