Hulu’s forthcoming live TV streaming service is starting to shape up. Today, the company announced it scored a deal with A&E Networks, which will bring six more channels to the core package, including A&E, History, Lifetime, LMN, FYI, and Viceland. The deal follows others Hulu has made with CBS, 21st Century Fox, and Disney which, combined, add 40 networks to its service, including broadcast networks CBS, ABC, and Fox.
The service will also have several sports networks, like Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPN-SEC, and Fox Regional Sports networks across several national markets. Other notable cable TV channels arriving include Disney Channel, Disney Jr., Disney XD, Fox News, Fox Business, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, Nat Geo, Nat Geo Wild, TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, Boomerang and Turner Classic Movies.
“As we begin to finalize our new live TV service, we’re pulling together the most valuable, well-rounded package of channels available for under $40,” said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, in statement about the A&E deal. “We know the A+E Networks brand of award-winning storytelling is important to our viewers, and we’re very excited to add their networks to the core service we launch this Spring.”
A&E’s channels are home to a number of notable shows that have gained some mainstream awareness, including “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” Lifetime’s “Project Runway” and “UnReal,” FYI’s “Married at First Sight” and others.
However, Bloomberg also reported today that Hulu and Viacom have failed to come to an agreement, meaning Viacom’s channels – like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central – won’t be offered at launch.
But Hulu’s live TV service isn’t the only one forging ahead without Viacom. Sony’s Playstation Vue also lost all Viacom channels back in November, and YouTube TV just launched without Viacom, as well.
Dish’s Sling TV packages some Viacom channels like Comedy Central, Nick Jr and Nicktoons into its Kids add-on, but lacks the flagship property Nickelodeon. DirecTV Now, meanwhile, has that channel and others.
Still, Hulu’s lack of Viacom content is properly going to end up a worse deal for Viacom than for Hulu.
Today’s users can live without access to many traditional cable TV channels, which they see as largely superfluous to the content they can watch over the air for free through their digital antennas, or from on-demand streaming services they pay for, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO NOW, and others – all of which are also filled with original content.
On top of that, TV programming in general is fighting to remain a part of U.S. consumers’ downtime, which is increasing filled with time spent online – including watching YouTube videos – and playing in mobile apps. This trend is even more true with younger viewers, who aren’t necessarily “cutting the cord” with cable – they’re never signing up in the first place.