Hulu adds CBS for upcoming live TV streaming service

CBS Corp has signed a deal to have its broadcast network and some cable programming on Hulu's live streaming service, which is expected to go live this year, the companies said Wednesday. The idea for the OTT would never have been broached if they hadn't been ready to make their channels available for live streaming. Sony also offers stand-alone network subscriptions through the Vue, like HBO Now for $15, for those who want to opt into a specific channel.

But it did note that two highly valuable CBS properties, the National Football League and the NCAA men's basketball tournament, will be included on the live feed for Hulu.

With the addition of the CBS channels, subscribers to Hulu's new live service will have access to popular programming, including Big Bang Theory, NCIS, Big Brother, Blue Bloods and 60 Minutes, both live and on-demand.

The announcement is expected to come today, according to the report, the same day which Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins is scheduled to speak at a Citi investor conference.

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Hopkins, a rare speaker on the investor conference circuit, noted that live TV streaming is becoming increasingly competitive.

As far as the channel lineup is concerned, the upcoming service will include selections such as ABC, CBC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Fox, Fox Sports 1, Fox News, FX, FXX, National Geographic, TBS, TNT, The Cartoon Network and more.

Hulu has yet to offer full details about the service.

Of particular importance to viewers, especially those looking for lower pricing than traditional cable TV bundles, is that Hulu's new multichannel service will be priced "below $40", Hopkins said.

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Hulu's upcoming service will include CBS, notably absent from AT&T's competing DirecTV Now internet TV package. While there will be a few current episodes that will be available, actual full seasons will still be exclusive to the CBS All Access app which is a standalone product. In the case of new live streaming entrants, that means in the $3 to $4 per subscriber range.

The pact also offers the option for Hulu to include CBS's Smithsonian Channel and the CW Network in the future, and allows it to sell CBS's premium network Showtime as an add-on to the live-streaming service.

Unlike its rivals' announced services, Hopkins said Hulu can undercharge competitors because it also operates an $8 per month on-demand service featuring the past seasons of current shows including hits such as AMC Networks' (AMCX) The Walking Dead. Instead, it will offer a limited on-demand library.

The analyst also added that the biggest potential impact of the deal would be with other skinny bundle services, such as DirecTV.

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