Hulu and Hulu Plus

Hulu Plans New Streaming Service, Offering Live TV in 2017

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In an effort to help networks benefit more from cord-cutters, video streaming giant Hulu announced in early May that they’ll be offering an online video streaming service that would stream live feeds of broadcasts from Cable TV channels in 2017.

Hulu, owned by the same companies that own three major networks (ABC, Fox and NBC), is hoping to compete with Sling TV, which is a streaming service owned by Dish Network.

The company also announced that it has 12 million subscribers (or will have that many by the end of this month), and that its subscriber base has grown by 33% in the past year. (That’s still just around one-fourth of the total subscribers that Netflix already has, but that margin is decreasing.)

New Streaming Service: The Networks Strike Back

The major networks have been trying to figure out the right ways to capitalize on streamers, from an advertising standpoint and from a subscription standpoint. Cable providers have been taking a chunk of money for years that networks now believe they can get by side-stepping them.

This is, without question, a huge blow to cable companies, which have also been working on ways to get a slice of the very cord-cutting pie that companies like Roku have stolen from them.

Hulu already offers on-demand viewing of many network and Cable TV shows, usually within a day of them airing. But this new service, which we’re guessing will cost considerably more than Hulu’s current $8 price point, will be offering shows like your cable box would. You’ll probably see a similar TV channels grid, listing which shows are airing now, and you’ll probably still be able to view other shows that have already aired, like your Cable TV’s on-demand service (or Hulu).

Related: Is Hulu Plus Worth the Money?

The company is hoping to “fuse” linear television viewing with on-demand shows, offering what they call a “deeply personalized experience” for their viewers. My guess is advertising will become deeply personalized as well at some point, just like a website that caches cookies in your browser.

Hulu Promises More Hulu Originals

One part that particularly excites us is that Hulu saw great success with new subscribers when it premiered Stephen King’s “11.22.63” on President’s Day in February, 2016. According to Hulu Chief Executive Mike Hopkins, it was the company’s biggest day ever.

Hulu “delivered more streams on that week than any other week” of the year, according to Hopkins. He also mentioned that 70% of its streams are currently going to televisions, rather than computers.

Because of the success of “11.22.63,” and quite possibly Aaron Paul’s new Hulu Original series, “The Path,” Hulu plans to double down on investing in more original programming, which will include TV shows and films.

The streaming service has a new department that will focus on making quality documentaries, too, called, “Hulu Documentary Films.” They already acquired the exclusive streaming rights to Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week,” after it hits theaters this fall.

Ad-Free Hulu Isn’t That Popular

Interestingly, Hulu said that it’s commercial-free version of its service hasn’t had as much success as the version that still runs ads, despite being a subscription service. This surprises me because it’s a $4 difference (from $7.99 to $11.99), but you get no ads (outside of a few select TV shows). That’s like watching “Game of Thrones” on HBO, then having commercials run every 15 minutes. If I’m subscribing, that should be the end of commercials. But obviously, I’m in the minority there.

The fact that Hulu is owned by three networks (CBS has their own streaming service called “CBS Access”) makes it a much different animal than Netflix. It has the ability to get first-run shows in current seasons, as opposed to waiting a year, and it has more access to stars and production studios.

Between Hulu and Netflix, there’s no doubt that Hulu has more room to grow – and I get the feeling they’ll pass right by Netflix at some point, as well as dozens of Cable TV providers currently shaking in their boots.