Hulu today announced a new agreement with The CW Network, a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros., which will allow Hulu to offer the network to subscribers of its newer Live TV service. The deal is notable because the addition means Hulu now has in place agreements with all five of the major U.S. broadcasters, having previously made deals with NBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS itself.
Hulu officially unveiled its live TV streaming service this May, only days after announcing the closure of a deal with NBCU – the last major TV network it wanted to have on its slate before launching.
Its service today competes in a crowded landscape along with PlayStation Vue from Sony, YouTube TV, Dish’s Sling TV, and AT&T’s DirecTV NOW, among other, more niche services like fuboTV. Given how many options consumers have today – not to mention the power that AT&T has to bundle its live TV product alongside wireless plans – the need to offer compatible channel line-ups and features (like a DVR for example), is critical.
Beyond being one of the U.S.’s major broadcasters, The CW is also important because it attracts a youthful audience of teens and young adults – the very customer who’s more willing to cut the cord with traditional pay TV, or just not sign up in the first place.
“The CW has long attracted younger audiences to live TV, so we are very happy to offer the network through Hulu’s new live service,” said Tim Connolly, Hulu Senior Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Distribution, in a statement.
In fact, millennials’ interest in streaming over cable has already allowed YouTube TV to snag third place in terms of paying subscribers in this demographic, where it’s now tied with Hulu, according to a new study from research firm Morning Consult out earlier this month. And among the market as a whole, YouTube TV has jumped into third place, behind Netflix and Amazon, the researchers said.
That’s just one study, so it should for now be taken as a data point pointing to a possible shift, rather than proof of a definitive trend for the time being. Still, it seems that appealing to younger users could prove to be the path for success for these live TV services.
YouTube TV, it’s worth also mentioning, has offered The CW since launch along with the other major broadcasters. Plus, it took the approach to only roll out in a market once it had the full slate (or in some cases, at least 3 major broadcasters) on board. Hulu, meanwhile, launched with the big three, but these are not available in all markets as Hulu continues to make affiliate deals.
The CW today is known for a number of popular shows, including Riverdale, Supernatural, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and several superhero-themed series like Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, and The Flash.
Hulu says The CW will arrive in the months ahead for its Live TV (beta) subscribers. Like its other additions, it will arrive in select markets first, with other affiliates joining over time.