Hulu is officially launching the beta version of its live TV product today, offering access to more than 50 channels for $39.99 per month.
Those channels will include ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and local affiliates, along with ESPN, CNN, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, FX, USA Network and many more.
Hulu also announced that it’s signed a deal with Scripps Networks Interactive to bring their channels — including HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network — into the on-demand and live TV service.
The company is unveiling Hulu With Live TV (that’s the official name) at a New York City event for press and advertisers. The announcement (just barely) sticks to CEO Mike Hopkins’ earlier statement that the service would cost “under $40” — my colleague Sarah Perez reported last month that the price would be $39.99.
Other companies like AT&T/DirecTV and Google/YouTube have recently launched stripped down cable packages. Like Hulu, they allow you to watch live TV on a variety of devices, for a lower cost than a traditional cable subscription.
Hopkins argued today that Hulu is offering more than just a “skinny” cable bundle — it’s an entirely new TV experience, because it blends live TV with Hulu’s on-demand TV library, and because it creates a personalized experience where users get easy access to their favorite shows, movies and channels.
With a basic Hulu With Live TV subscription, you can create six individual profiles and view two streams simultaneously. You also get 50 hours of DVR storage. You can pay extra for more storage ($14.99 per month), unlimited simultaneous streams ($14.99), both unlimited storage and simultaneous streams ($19.99) and Showtime ($8.99).
Hulu says the live TV experience is rolling out on Xbox One, Apple TV, iOS, Android and Chromecast, with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Sticks and Samsung Smart TVs coming soon.
The event also included a big announcement on the Originals front — The Handmaid’s Tale, which Hopkins said was the service’s most-watched premiere ever, has been reviewed for a second season.
Plus, Hulu has made series orders for The First (a show about the colonization of Mars from Beau Willimon, creator of House of Cards) and Marvel’s Runaways. Other upcoming shows highlighted during the event include I Love You, America (a weekly political show from comedian Sarah Silverman), The Looming Tower (a Jeff Daniels-starring adaption of Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of Al Qaeda), and Castle Rock (another Stephen King adaption from producer J.J. Abrams).
And since Hulu was speaking to an audience of advertisers, it also announced a “t-commerce” ad unit in partnership with BrightLine, where users can interact with a personalized, location-based overlay in an ad — so in a movie ad, users can look up local show times and even buy tickets.