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TV on the internet.
CHANNEL SURFING

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

Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez

Reporter

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.

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