Hulu will offer cord-cutters traditional TV “channels” to flick through next year

TV on the internet.
TV on the internet.
Image: Reuters/Carlo Allegri
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You’ll soon be able to channel surf on Hulu just like you can on TV.

The streaming-video platform is reportedly planning a new service that would offer live programming from broadcast and cable-TV networks like ABC, ESPN, Fox, and FX, in addition to the on-demand video content Hulu was built on, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Such an offering would make Hulu the latest streaming platform to replicate traditional TV-style viewing for cord-cutters online. A year ago, Dish Network’s SlingTV launched a web-based bundle with more than 20 live-TV channels, including AMC, Disney, and ESPN. And the TV industry has been waiting for tech giants like Amazon and Apple to take on cable providers with their own slimmed-down bundles of TV channels.

The offering is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2017, the Journal said, and will be sold for about $40 a month, which is steeper than the $20 SlingTV charges for its comparable service. But Hulu’s offering also includes its on-demand library, which has content from more than 500 providers and originals.

With more than 9 million current subscriber, Hulu has the potential to vastly outpace SlingTV, which has an estimated subscriber base of 600,000.

Hulu’s forthcoming bundle will likely feature channels from Hulu co-owners Walt Disney Co. and 21st Century Fox, who are reportedly nearing deals to license many of their networks to the service.

Update (12:40pm EST): Comcast’s NBCUniversal, which is a silent partner in Hulu, is also in talks to sell its channels through the pay-TV platform, a person familiar with the conversations said.

Hulu and its parent companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This type of TV-style service further blurs the line between pay-TV and online-video services, which have become more entwined as cable operators fight to win back cord-cutters. Last month, Cablevision began selling Hulu‘s on-demand service as a cable channel on Optimum TV set-top boxes, for example. And Sony’s Crackle recently became available through Comcast‘s on-demand cable platform.