After months of rumors, a steady addition of licensed content from major networks ABC, Fox, CBS and — as of yesterday — NBCUniversal, on-demand video streamer Hulu has launched a public beta version of its live TV streaming service. Announced at Hulu’s lavish Hulu Upfront press event, Hulu with Live TV premieres as the next big challenger in the live TV streaming marketplace.
At a starting cost of $40 per month, Hulu’s new service features over 50 live channels at launch, and comes with a bonus in the form of a subscription to Hulu’s premium on-demand service (an $8-per-month value) as well as up to 50 hours of cloud DVR storage and six individual profiles.
As with competing services like DirecTV Now and Playstation Vue, users can connect to multiple streams at once, though the service is limited to just two devices at once for the basic package. Adding a $15-per-month upgrade tacks on 200 hours of cloud DVR storage, or unlimited in-home streams, while $20 gets you both.
Channels that viewers will likely be excited to see broken away from cable and satellite packages include sports stations like Fox Sports and ESPN, news stations like CNN and CNBC, and lifestyle channels like the Food Network and Adult Swim.
“Nearly a decade ago, Hulu forever redefined the way people watch TV. Today, as we add live sports, news and entertainment and introduce a more intuitive Hulu, we want to redefine the way people experience TV,” said Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins at a launch event in New York. “By bringing together thousands of live, on-demand and library shows and movies — and serving them up in a uniquely personalized way – Hulu can now be a viewer’s primary source of television. It’s a natural extension of our business, and an exciting new chapter for Hulu.”
The addition of the live TV streaming is a smart play for the company, though it is entering into a crowded market. Along with the services mentioned above, Hulu’s new service will have to contend with other competitors like SlingTV and YouTube TV, all of which are looking to capture a large portion of the live TV streaming subscriber pool. As one of the most popular on-demand streaming services online, it makes sense that Hulu should be able to grab some significant market share in the space, especially with so many sought-after channels.
Besides in-browser viewing, the service can be streamed on Apple TV, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and Chromecast devices at launch. The company says that popular streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TVs will soon be supported. Those looking for more information on how to subscribe to the service or it’s functionality can find everything they need to know on Hulu’s website.
Updated 5-4-2017 by Ryan Waniata: Amended cloud DVR storage to clarify that separate $15 upgrades allow for 200 hours of storage, or unlimited in-home streams, while a $20 upgrade gets you both.
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