Hulu has made a decision to go head-to-head with YouTube and other streaming services that are now offering what can be described as "light" cable subscriptions.
The app, which starts at $40 per month, grants access to more than 50 channels and marks the latest step toward a future where consumers can view live cable and broadcast shows from their smartphones, tablets and other Internet-connected devices.
"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 in a statement. That's likely because Viacom currently has a deal with DirecTV Now and Sling TV that provides subscribers with access to their channels, and they're not keen on expanding into too many live TV subscription services. The service, dubbed "Hulu with Live TV", costs $40 per month.
That means Hulu's paid TV bundle is one of the more comprehensive packages on the market. Customers will also be able to add the premium channel Showtime for an extra $9 a month.
Hulu has nailed the interface on this new service, which my colleague Jeff Dunn described as "exceedingly pleasant" when he tested it, but the major question will be how well the live TV product performs technically. In other markets, Hulu With Live TV will have holes in the lineup; the company says it's working to cut deals with station groups and will add more local channels over time. Cable networks such as HBO, AMC Networks, Viacom's Comedy Central and MTV are among those not now included in Hulu's new service, though the company said on Wednesday that additional premium network add-ons will be available soon.
Hulu's existing $7.99 streaming content is included for free. The new layout comes alongside the ability to subscribe to live television on the device among others. The company's promotional video shows it off as a way to watch any kind of content you want, whether it be on-demand or live, in the same place. Hulu states it will support more devices soon, including Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices.
What do you think of Hulu's new live TV service? Hulu's app is available on a bunch of devices as well, including Apple TV, Xbox One, and Chromecast, along with Android and iOS mobile devices, which gives you much more flexibility than YouTube TV's. It's just another step in seeing more cable subscribers cutting the cord and getting the content they want to see without being charged an arm and a leg by companies like Comcast and Time Warner. YouTube TV's $35-a-month service has no cloud storage limits either.
One nifty aspect for sports fans is that Hulu allows you to follow your favorite pro or college teams, and will surface those games for you instead of you having to figure out what channel they are on.