Hulu LLC is in talks with several major pay-TV operators about partnerships that could enable the web video specialist to be bundled with subscription video packages, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.
The talks include an integration of Hulu Plus, Hulu’s premium-level service that features original series and access to new and archived TV shows, the paper said, noting that the discussions come into play as incumbent providers continue to seek out ways to preserve the pay-TV model and obtain digital rights that would enable them to offer both new and archived episodes.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Verizon Communications are among the operators that are engaged in the talks, the paper said. Hulu is also talking to AT&T about tying the over-the-top service to its mobile offerings, the WSJ added, noting that the parties are still months away from a deal and that Hulu intends to retain its free service.
The potential shift in strategy at Hulu appears to be entering play as Mike Hopkins, a Hulu board member and most recently the president of distribution for Fox Networks, settles into his new role as CEO.
Hulu is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney Company and NBCUniversal and counts more than 4 million paying subscribers.
Hulu went on the block earlier this year but its owners opted to keep it and plow $750 million into the J.V. Among the bidders was DirecTV.
“We thought (Hulu) was a unique opportunity to serve millennials and we thought we could do something with it,” DirecTV CEO Mike White said last month at NYC Television Week in New York. “It was a unique opportunity. We knew there were some things that need to be fixed. We had a plan.”