Hulu is already a repository for many popular and current television shows, but it may soon be a more direct competitor to cable. The company is planning to launch a service that would stream live programming from broadcast and cable networks, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The new service would mark a sharp contrast from Hulu’s current on-demand offerings, which include the most recent seasons of popular shows like Empire and Broad City. On-demand episodes of shows typically arrive on Hulu between 24 hours and a few weeks after they air on TV. A cable-style service could let customers watch episodes as they debut.
Hulu’s service could also incorporate live sports, a highly lucrative piece of the traditional cable package that’s not currently available on Hulu. The new offering, which is set to launch in 2017, is expected to include ABC, Fox, Disney Channel and ESPN, according to the Journal. It will be sold separately from the current Hulu on-demand service.
Bringing live TV online has been a challenge for a number of tech companies. Today Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue offerings stream bundles of live TV channels at prices starting at $20 per month. But other companies, including Amazon, Apple, and AT&T have either announced similar services or they’re rumored to be in the works. Brokering deals with TV networks, who are wary of upsetting the traditional pay-TV models, has been a yearslong process for some of these firms.
Netflix, for its part, continues to stress that it has little interest in live TV. “You should think about our brand proposition as very much about on demand,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said on the company’s most recent earnings call. “And other people doing live, I think it’s great. It’s about the further expansion of internet television to include live. We don’t have to do everything to be part of that expansion.”