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Hulu as a cable channel? Cablevision makes channel 605 a Hulu portal

Is big cable trying to take Hulu back?

The New York area’s Cablevision Systems has announced that Hulu will now be available to traditional cable TV customers through its set-top boxes, where Optimum TV subscribers can access the streaming video service on channel 605, according to Variety.

Hulu is a joint streaming video venture which is owned by traditional TV portals, including the Disney-ABC Television Group, Fox Broadcasting Company, and Comcast-owned NBC, all of which have large stakes in the service known best for its next-day streams of network series.

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Cablevision Systems is the first cable company to allow users to access Hulu via a normal channel-driven cable subscription. Dialing up channel 605 allows users to login through their Hulu account to view content, or use a free trial of the service. Users will then be greeted by an interactive portal which allows them to pick the content they wish to stream.

Cablevision previously had access to Hulu’s on-demand content, but only for subscribers who logged into Optimum TV’s online platform.

Hulu is not the first streaming video service to work on traditional cable portals. Netflix has been available via small cable operators and the U.K.’s Virgin Media for years, by way of an app integration with select set-top cable boxes.

Still, it’s an interesting phenomenon for a streaming service owned by cable company/TV networks to be licensed back to another cable company; one which is made all the more interesting given recent rumors about the hesitancy of Hulu’s owners to sign new long-term contracts that would allow it ensure its steady feed of network programming for the near future.

But the decision to bring Hulu to traditional cable subscribers in the same way they receive other premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime, and others, is probably more of a play to get older subscribers to try out Hulu than to court younger cord cutters back to cable.

Time will tell whether other, bigger, cable company’s follow suit. For their part, Hulu’s executives have expressed excitement about the potential new subscriber base.

“We are thrilled that Optimum customers can now access Hulu’s content library without having to leave their cable TV environment,” said Tim Connolly, Hulu’s senior vice president of distribution and strategic partnerships.

Optimum TV currently has 2.6 million subscribers. The rollout of the Hulu channel to those users will take place over the next several weeks.