Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins confirmed to The New York Times that the online video hub is indeed developing an over-the-top pay TV service that will deliver a slimmed-down bundle of broadcast and cable channels.
Details on how Hulu will price and package these services is still in the works, but the paper confirmed earlier reports that it will cost in the area of $40 per month and that it’s part of an initiative by Hulu owners – 21st Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company and Comcast’s NBCUniversal – to “rethink” the future of TV. More details are expected today when Hulu makes its Upfront presentation in New York.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Hulu was working a planned Q1 2017 launch of the new service and was in on distribution deals with Disney and Fox. NBCU is actively negotiating with Hulu about a proposed multichannel TV service, an industry source familiar with the negotiations told Multichannel News.
Hopkins, the long-time TV industry exec who took the helm of Hulu in the fall of 2013, told the Times that the plan for the new service is coming together as broadband speeds rise and as there are increased instances in which programmers are looking to license programming through OTT distribution channels.
“There’s a paradox of choice that is out there today with the number of channels that are available. It is not intuitive or easy always to find them, particularly on your mobile device. We are going to try to solve that by making it more personalized.”
Hopkins also brushed off the suggestion that an OTT-TV service would be viewed as a “declaration of war” on traditional MVPDs.
“It is not a declaration of war on anyone,” he said. “I don’t think we are designing this for people that are really happy with their pay TV service. This is designed for the people that the marketplace is concerned are falling out of love with pay TV. We want to have a product for them.”
Hopkins agreed that Hulu does compete for content rights, “but I am not sure I would say we are rivals just yet.”
He said Hulu has not yet decided if it will let viewers skip commercials or opt for a commercial-free version of the OTT-TV service. Hulu introduced an ad-free version of its SVOD service last September.
When Hulu does introduce its offering, it will have an installed base to target – its current SVOD service has about 10 million subs.
Update: Hulu announced today that it is nearing 12 million U.S. subs, touting year-on-year growth of more than 30%.