On Wednesday, Hulu launched its live-TV service, a cable competitor that’s $39.99 a month.
Hulu With Live TV works much like a cable- or satellite-TV package, except it’s delivered over the internet to your smart TV, phone, tablet, and so on.
The interface is focused on blending the worlds of live TV and on-demand into one product, and the live-TV package includes access to all the content in Hulu’s current $7.99 offering as well. That means if you are a Hulu subscriber already, the new service costs an additional $32 a month.
“You shouldn’t have to think about whether something is live, recorded, or on-demand, or care about which device you’re using,” Ben Smith, a Hulu senior vice president, said in a statement about the new service.
The new package of “over 50 channels” is built on deals with the four big broadcast networks: ABC, Fox, NBC, and crucially CBS, which has been absent from some early streaming-TV packages. So you get all of those plus the cable channels they own. One caveat is that local affiliate stations aren’t available in some markets because of complicated rights deals, so that’s something you should check on.
Generally, the package has an impressive breadth of content for $40 a month. It hits two major points of live TV well: sports and news. For sports fans, there’s ESPN, CBS, NBC, Fox Sports, and TNT. To keep up on the news, you get CNN, Fox News, and most others you’d want.
Getting a deal with Turner is a big plus for Hulu since it means CNN, TNT, TBS, and other Turner channels are in the bundle. This was a conspicuous hole in YouTube’s $35 live-TV product released last month.
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.
Beyond sports and news, Hulu’s package includes Food Network, FX, Bravo, E!, USA, and National Geographic, to name a few. (Beyond the broadcast networks, Hulu has deals with Turner, A&E, and Scripps.) The biggest hole is the lack of AMC and Viacom, so no Comedy Central.
In short, this service has a great programming mix for $40 a month.